Theme: Love, sonnet
The Death of Ivan Ilyich
1 John 2:15-16 (ESV)
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
Ivan Ilyich labored his entire life in the pursuit of worldly success. He made decisions based on a list of society’s materialistic requirements: attend the right school to secure a prestigious job, climb the corporate ladder, marry out of duty and support the requisite family, move to a lovely house in the suburbs embellished with the perfect furnishings. By the world’s standards, Ivan was succeeding because he was following a formula and achieving “the good life.” Leo Tolstoy wrote The Death of Ivan Ilyich shortly after his conversion (circa 1870) but the theme of the story is timely poignant for today.
As he becomes sick and fragile, he glimpses deep compassion through the care he receives from his caregiver, Gerasim. Ivan has wasted years on gathering the fleeting markers of success without seeing that true beauty and compassion are the defining gifts in life. Moments before he dies, Ivan realizes that he lived for appearances and approval of others, pushing aside everything that would give and receive love — his family, friends, and God — in exchange for empty pursuits. Will we wait until the last moment of our lives to lift our eyes to meet Agape?
Striving in shadow, lit by my own power.
Climbing, I grip the rung. Succeed, I must
Pursue phantom time – tyrant of hours.
My aspirations turn to choking dust.
Empty myself for assent, add dark strife.
Confirming my value to hollow hearts.
Tightly woven mirage of a “good” life.
Tangled ropes of purpose tear it apart.
I look from my weak flicker to the Fire
Light undimmed, Agape knows my name.
Awe in the ordinary, captured by
Eyes of pure love, my heart to reclaim.
What once was empty with longings unstilled,
Met love at last, what joy! My soul fulfilled.
Featured image by Tom Darin Liskey
Annie Nardone is a two-year C.S. Lewis Institute Fellow and is currently reading for her Master of Arts in Cultural Apologetics from Houston Baptist University. Her heart is for Rohan, Narnia, and Hogwarts, far fairer lands than this. Annie researched, photographed, and wrote a cookbook of historically accurate recipes covering the time between 64 A.D through the Medieval age. She also contributes and edits for the Christian apologetics magazine An Unexpected Journal, which can be found at www.anunexpectedjournal.com. Annie resides in Virginia with her fandom-loving family and four sphynx cats who read with her daily, but really don’t give a tick about her ramblings regarding any of it. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org