Thinking Positively

“Repentance is not self-flagellation; it is an opening flower.” Met. Ware

We once asked Father Paisios, “Father, you constantly tell us to think positively. We would like you to give us some advice on how to deal with when people come to tell us that various priests charge a great deal of money for performing the Holy Mysteries.  They even say that some priests are involved in immoral acts and, in general, make severe accusations against them, presenting evidence to justify these accusations. What answers can we give to those who accuse the clergy?”

The Elder said, “I know from experience that in this life people are divided in two categories. A third category does not exist. People either belong to one or the other. The first kind of person resembles the fly which is… attracted to filth… When a fly finds itself in a garden full of flowers with beautiful fragrances, it will ignore them and land on top of some filth it finds on the ground. It will wallow in it, feeling comfortable with the foul smell. If the fly could talk, and you were to ask it to show you a rose in the garden, it would answer: ‘I’ve no idea what a rose looks like. I only know where to find garbage, toilets, and filth.’ There are many people who resemble the fly thinking negatively, always looking for the evil things of life, ignoring and rejecting all the good there is.

People in the other category are like the bee, which looks always for something sweet and pleasant to land on. When a bee finds itself in a room filled with filth, but where there is a small piece of sweet in a corner, it will ignore the filth and land on top of the sweet. Now, if we were to ask the bee to show us where the garbage was, it would answer: ‘I do not know. I can only tell you where to find flowers, sweets, honey, and sugar.’ It only knows the good things in life and ignores all evil. People in this category think positively and see only the good side of things [whenever possible] covering up evil, in order to protect their fellow man. Contrarily, people in the first category look to expose evil and to bring it to the surface [even when it is unnecessary].

“When someone comes to me and begins accusing other people, putting me in a difficult situation, I relate to him the foregoing example and I ask him to decide in which category he wishes to belong, so he might find people of similar kind with whom to associate.

— Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain

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