1 Culverine 161 a.L.

The year of Sai Vikhë has ended. I wrote earlier about some of the ways that she has been working in my life and, before turning my thoughts in earnest toward the dawning year of Sai Mati, I think it the very least I can do to bear some witness to Sai Vikhë’s faithfulness and generosity. I and my family were immeasurably blessed by her through a year of great upheavals. So many crutches I have walked upon through long years I was able, by her aid, to throw down at the very moment that races were to be run. Among many examples I could give has been my employment. I have worked low-paid, dead-end jobs for nearly a decade—a situation that has owed in part to the bad economy in America, but much more to my inability to manage the traumas I have carried, which left me a pattern of defeatism and self-sabotage, insecurity and learned helplessness. Even before the year of Sai Vikhë started, it had become apparent that my existing work was not sustainable for either myself (it was very demoralizing) or my family (it was poorly remunerated). For ten years I had been trying to find a direction, or even just a change, but even the most menial jobs turned me down again and again and again. Every rejection seemed yet another proof of my own inadequacy.

Into this spiral, she stretched her hand. By a thousand strokes of her gleaming sword—often too quick for me to fully register, always too long for me to see in their entirety—she drove back the demons that clung most tightly to my tired arms so that I might gain a free hand against them. Beneath the shadow of her unshaken shield, I could step out into what had, at one time, seemed a no-man’s-land. Through her grace, I discovered a heart to put myself forward, and I showed up in places of which I had thought myself unworthy, holding my head high where once I had bowed it in shame. For a decade, sensing my doubt and my self-derision, no interviewer had believed me strong enough for more than temporary, substitute work. This past year, with her arm strengthening mine, I was offered a job. And then another. And then another.

Because of her, I am beginning the year of Sai Mati with two part-time jobs in libraries (a field which is notoriously difficult to break into), which has enabled me to take another step I have feared for a long time—namely, taking on some additional student loans to obtain a professional master’s degree (since I will now have the job experience needed to make a master’s in library and information science marketable). It seems entirely fitting that, now embarked upon my proper, haielic vocation, the year in which I will be building my foundation of experience and completing the great majority of my degree program should be that which falls under the patronage of Sai Mati, who governs both my chosen career and the life of the student. I do not forget, however, as I prepare to honor Sai Mati’s guidance, that it is through Sai Vikhë’s benefaction that I am arrived at this threshold—preparing to uphold what remains in my society of Sai Mati’s temples, and readying myself to put the professional knowledge I am gaining into service for the Ekklesia through the extension of those works of matristic scholarship I have begun, which She has so richly blessed already.

Hence, as I stand at the dawn of the new year, I am tempted to write of how, knowing now firsthand the generosity Sai Vikhë has shown, I look forward to discovering the blessings Sai Mati will bestow, but I do not wish to approach them glibly. In looking back over the past year I feel supremely blessed, but I remember also that I did not always feel so smiled upon at the time. Sai Vikhë’s courage came upon me in the moments of my greatest fear, and her strength suffused me precisely when my own strength had most deeply failed. When we are overwhelmed and overrun, when our enemies hang upon us so that we can no longer stand, Sai Vikhë will ride to our aid with flashing steel, but this is a beginning rather than an end. Our Lady teaches that our real strength is in compassion, understanding, and forgiveness (1 Teachings 5:37–47; 6:5–8), and so Sai Vikhë’s truest gift is not to slay our demons, but to enable us with steady eyes to face them and be transformed.

It is not that I doubt that, when I stand again at this point upon the year’s wheel, I shall look back and feel blessed beyond all of my imaginings; indeed, I am quite certain that I shall. I am mindful, though, of what lies between this point and itself. Perhaps in the year of Sai Mati I will have less demons to face (they are rather Sai Vikhë’s specialty), but I doubt it shall be any more pleasant to face the depths of my ignorance, or to walk through the leering grin of my confusion. I know her light will reach me in the greatest darkness, but I know too that I will, at times, have to descend into the darkness to meet it.

But this is not a note upon which to end. No flower, sayeth our Lady, can greet springtime with austerity (1 Teachings 3:8), and this day is a day of light supremely; I wish nothing less for each and every one of you. This year, may we be lights unto one another, each after our own fashion, even as She is the Light unto each of us. She is risen, sisters. She is risen!