John Chrysostom the Winter Optimist

From his final letter to the deacon Olympia, written from forced exile in the mountains of Armenia, winter 407:

Even with the exceeding severity of the winter, and our stomach’s infirmity, and the raiding of the Isaurians, do not let your cares for us make you overly anxious. For the winter has been simply what it naturally is [and] we have devised many ways to fend off being harmed–having a fire burning continually, having the little room where we’re staying screened off all the way around, being wrapped in many blankets, and staying inside all the time. All of this causes us to suffer, but it’s bearable because of the beneficial results. …

“And neither the inclemency of the weather, nor the desolation of the region, nor the scarcity of goods, nor the dearth of attendants, nor the unskillfulness of the doctors, nor the absence of baths, nor being confined all day long to one room as in a prison, nor being continually unable to move even when I have need to do so, nor constantly abiding in the smoke and near the fire, nor the fear of robbers nor their ceaseless raids, nor any other similar thing has prevailed over us.”

-John Chrysostom, Letter 17, from Saint John Chrysostom: Letters to Saint Olympia, trans. David C. Ford, Popular Patristic Series 56; Yonkers, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2016, pp. 159, 167.

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