St. Gregory of Nyssa

St. Gregory of Nyssa, 35" x 60" Oil on Panel, by Melissa Carmon

St. Gregory of Nyssa, 35" x 60" Oil on Panel, by Melissa Carmon


"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:4
On the Death of St. Basil the Great

The world was a world made
of snow and vapors, it hung
and instant, like a diorama
the cut out buildings, the streets,
the hills.  

The story, with
its beginning, middle, end,
was a story of snow crystals
and the real story, well

—this was not how it
was supposed to go.  

A wind blew, 
and you were gone.
And the ground, the good ground
the cool earth became cruel
and the inculpable darkness
became complete.  Darkness that
swallows a body whole. 


Light was not light
and leaves were not leaves. 
and morning brought a wall
within an inch of my nose,
my hands, arms, legs, limbs.
Grief, its own invisible coffin
in which the living walk the waking world 

And these eyes, 
you would think there would be
a limit to tears. 
you would think there would be
a limit to years
when I could only see the world through water

I suppose eternity takes on
a different light
when half of you is already there.
and the sterling words still ring true: 

“Where your treasure is
there shall you find your heart.”  

On philosophy

I searched amid books
the scrolls of a hundred libraries
the wisdom of Athens
of doctors
all the philosophers
I have read them, 
read them all. 

Those dams of broken water
those floodwaters for which there is no reigning in
have carved a new landscape
carved rock canyons
its violent eddies have quarried their own gems
unearthed these earthly veins of mine

Yet I did not expect
that somewhere in the darkness
I would find florescence
that somehow the barren places
stripped to lifeless stone would shine

The legends say when Adam fell
he broke into a million pieces. 
And, I, a fragment
am looking for the whole

There is a mystery in the last light at dusk
There is a longing deeper than the heart can hold
There is a secret in the wind that blows
And though we know Him only in part,
we are fully known

Historical Background:

Gregory of Nyssa (335 CE - ca 394 CE), younger brother of St. Basil the Great, was one of the three Cappadocian fathers.  He was a brilliant rhetorician, and his keen intellect was paired with a depth of understanding for the human heart. He is known for his writings on the Christian idea of the trinity, the infinitude of God, and anthropology.  His works of philosophy have retained interest in scholarly circles to the present day.