The sorrow of the ascetic is not a hopeless sadness, but a hope-filled lament for all that is distant from God. It is the heart weeping for its loss, even in the same breath that it receives its gain, just as the father wept for his prodigal son even as the latter rushed with longing into his father’s arms. The tears wept in this divine sorrow are tears of purification, the divine waters of baptismal grace welling up anew from the depths of the heart, purifying flesh and soul as they ascend upward and outward, finally to fall to the waiting earth.

It is in sorrow that the ascetic heart finds the doorway to joy. A heart petrified so long by the dry passions and fleeting winds of worldly desires becomes hardened, parched, incapable of change or growth. It is this parched earth that the ascetic waters with her tears, pained at her heart’s barrenness, but stirred with profoundest joy at the knowledge that each drop of water transforms the very earth itself.

As sorrow gives rise to tears, so is the hardened heart softened. As the heart is softened, holiness is born. As holiness is born, so divine transformation occurs. And where God transforms life, there all joy and hope, love and peace are found. Thus does the ascetic sorrow, for in sorrow is the door to life.

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