ELDER ZOSIMA: HESYCHAST OF SIBERIA
Dost Thou hear, O God, my humble plea?
‘Tis Thy slave that cries to Thee,
After seeking Thee, in fields and woods
and every place
Till I come at last to Thine embrace.
Elder Zosima (1767-1833) was one of the many holy hermits and desert dwellers who lived in the vast and wild forests of the Russian North. His biography reveals how the grace of God works in one who is devoted to the labor of unceasing noetic activity—unseen warfare and interior silence. Hesychasm is the mental activity of the Jesus Prayer, in the depths of the human heart. Through it the whole man is enlightened and sanctified.
"…I believe that if one departs for the inner desert overcome and persuaded by a divine love for Christ, he will truly live as if in Paradise. No longer hindered by any obstacles, he will be free to delight constantly in the thought of God and in sweet prayer of the heart and mind, with God, and in his God. No longer shedding tears of grief alone, but weeping in joyful sorrow, he will dwell in the mountain heights as a heavenly bird, offering sweet songs to his Creator and Redeemer. Separated from all persons and things, as a beloved lamb of Christ, he will graze and take his fill of joy of the heart through the grace of Christ. Indeed, such a person would not trade his desert life for royal chambers that require excessive care, for living this way he may constantly contemplate the Kingdom of Heaven with ease.… "—From a letter of Elder Zosima
Written by the Elder’s niece and spiritual daughter, Elder Zozimas: Hesychast of Siberia touchingly and expressively recounts the life of this holy contemporary of St. Seraphim of Sarov and St. Herman of Alaska, as well as his loving spiritual relationship with his elder and co-mystic, Elder Basilisk, a great doer of the Jesus Prayer.