WHEN with an anxious and aching heart Alyosha went into his elder's cell, h_tood still almost astonished. Instead of a sick man at his last gasp, perhap_nconscious, as he had feared to find him, he saw him sitting up in his chai_nd, though weak and exhausted, his face was bright and cheerful, he wa_urrounded by visitors and engaged in a quiet and joyful conversation. But h_ad only got up from his bed a quarter of an hour before Alyosha's arrival; his visitors had gathered together in his cell earlier, waiting for him t_ake, having received a most confident assurance from Father Paissy that "th_eacher would get up, and as he had himself promised in the morning, convers_nce more with those dear to his heart." This promise and indeed every word o_he dying elder Father Paissy put implicit trust in. If he had seen hi_nconscious, if he had seen him breathe his last, and yet had his promise tha_e would rise up and say good-bye to him, he would not have believed perhap_ven in death, but would still have expected the dead man to recover an_ulfil his promise. In the morning as he lay down to sleep, Father Zossima ha_old him positively: "I shall not die without the delight of anothe_onversation with you, beloved of my heart. I shall look once more on you_ear face and pour out my heart to you once again." The monks, who ha_athered for this probably last conversation with Father Zossima, had all bee_is devoted friends for many years. There were four of them: Father Iosif an_ather Paissy, Father Mihail the warden of the hermitage, a man not very ol_nd far from being learned. He was of humble origin, of strong will an_teadfast faith, of austere appearance, but of deep tenderness, though h_bviously concealed it as though he were almost ashamed of it. The fourth, Father Anfim, was a very old and humble little monk of the poorest peasan_lass. He was almost illiterate, and very quiet, scarcely speaking to anyone.
He was the humblest of the humble, and looked as though he had been frightene_y something great and awful beyond the scope of his intelligence. Fathe_ossima had a great affection for this timorous man, and always treated hi_ith marked respect, though perhaps there was no one he had known to whom h_ad said less, in spite of the fact that he had spent years wandering abou_oly Russia with him. That was very long ago, forty years before, when Fathe_ossima first began his life as a monk in a poor and little monastery a_ostroma, and when, shortly after, he had accompanied Father Anfim on hi_ilgrimage to collect alms for their poor monastery.
The whole party were in the bedroom which, as we mentioned before, was ver_mall, so that there was scarcely room for the four of them (in addition t_orfiry, the novice, who stood) to sit round Father Zossima on chairs brough_rom the sitting room. It was already beginning to get dark, the room wa_ighted up by the lamps and the candles before the ikons.
Seeing Alyosha standing embarrassed in the doorway, Father Zossima smiled a_im joyfully and held out his hand.
"Welcome, my quiet one, welcome, my dear, here you are too. I knew you woul_ome."
Alyosha went up to him, bowed down before him to the ground and wept.
Something surged up from his heart, his soul was quivering, he wanted to sob.
"Come, don't weep over me yet," Father Zossima smiled, laying his right han_n his head. "You see I am sitting up talking; maybe I shall live anothe_wenty years yet, as that dear good woman from Vishegorye, with her littl_izaveta in her arms, wished me yesterday. God bless the mother and the littl_irl Lizaveta," he crossed himself. "Porfiry, did you take her offering wher_ told you?"
He meant the sixty copecks brought him the day before by the good-humoure_oman to be given "to someone poorer than me." Such offerings, always of mone_ained by personal toil, are made by way of penance voluntarily undertaken.
The elder had sent Porfiry the evening before to a widow, whose house had bee_urnt down lately, and who after the fire had gone with her children beggin_lms. Porfiry hastened to reply that he had given the money, as he had bee_nstructed, "from an unknown benefactress."
"Get up, my dear boy," the elder went on to Alyosha. "Let me look at you. Hav_ou been home and seen your brother?" It seemed strange to Alyosha that h_sked so confidently and precisely, about one of his brothers only- but whic_ne? Then perhaps he had sent him out both yesterday and to-day for the sak_f that brother.
"I have seen one of my brothers," answered Alyosha.
"I mean the elder one, to whom I bowed down."
"I only saw him yesterday and could not find him to-day," said Alyosha.
"Make haste to find him, go again to-morrow and make haste, leave everythin_nd make haste. Perhaps you may still have time to prevent something terrible.
I bowed down yesterday to the great suffering in store for him."
He was suddenly silent and seemed to be pondering. The words were strange.
Father Iosif, who had witnessed the scene yesterday, exchanged glances wit_ather Paissy. Alyosha could not resist asking:
"Father and teacher," he began with extreme emotion, "your words are to_bscure… . What is this suffering in store for him?"
"Don't inquire. I seemed to see something terrible yesterday… as though hi_hole future were expressed in his eyes. A look came into his eyes- so that _as instantly horror-stricken at what that man is preparing for himself. Onc_r twice in my life I've seen such a look in a man's face… reflecting as i_ere his future fate, and that fate, alas, came to pass. I sent you to him, Alexey, for I thought your brotherly face would help him. But everything an_ll our fates are from the Lord. 'Except a corn of wheat fall into the groun_nd die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.'
Remember that. You, Alexey, I've many times silently blessed for your face, know that," added the elder with a gentle smile. "This is what I think of you, you will go forth from these walls, but will live like a monk in the world.
You will have many enemies, but even your foes will love you. Life will brin_ou many misfortunes, but you will find your happiness in them, and will bles_ife and will make others bless it- which is what matters most. Well, that i_our character. Fathers and teachers," he addressed his friends with a tende_mile, "I have never till to-day told even him why the face of this youth i_o dear to me. Now I will tell you. His face has been as it were a remembranc_nd a prophecy for me. At the dawn of my life when I was a child I had a_lder brother who died before my eyes at seventeen. And later on in the cours_f my life I gradually became convinced that that brother had been for _uidance and a sign from on high for me. For had he not come into my life, _hould never perhaps, so I fancy at least, have become a monk and entered o_his precious path. He appeared first to me in my childhood, and here, at th_nd of my pilgrimage, he seems to have come to me over again. It i_arvellous, fathers and teachers, that Alexey, who has some, though not _reat, resemblance in face, seems to me so like him spiritually, that man_imes I have taken him for that young man, my brother, mysteriously come bac_o me at the end of my pilgrimage, as a reminder and an inspiration. So that _ositively wondered at so strange a dream in myself. Do you hear this, Porfiry?" he turned to the novice who waited on him. "Many times I've seen i_our face as it were a look of mortification that I love Alexey more than you.
Now you know why that was so, but I love you too, know that, and many times _rieved at your mortification. I should like to tell you, dear friends, o_hat youth, my brother, for there has been no presence in my life mor_recious, more significant and touching. My heart is full of tenderness, and _ook at my whole life at this moment as though living through it again."
Here I must observe that this last conversation of Father Zossima with th_riends who visited him on the last day of his life has been partly preserve_n writing. Alexey Fyodorovitch Karamazov wrote it down from memory, some tim_fter his elder's death. But whether this was only the conversation that too_lace then, or whether he added to it his notes of parts of forme_onversations with his teacher, I cannot determine. In his account, Fathe_ossima's talk goes on without interruption, as though he told his life to hi_riends in the form of a story, though there is no doubt, from other account_f it, that the conversation that evening was general. Though the guests di_ot interrupt Father Zossima much, yet they too talked, perhaps even tol_omething themselves. Besides, Father Zossima could not have carried on a_ninterrupted narrative, for he was sometimes gasping for breath, his voic_ailed him, and he even lay down to rest on his bed, though he did not fal_sleep and his visitors did not leave their seats. Once or twice th_onversation was interrupted by Father Paissy's reading the Gospel. It i_orthy of note, too, that no one of them supposed that he would die tha_ight, for on that evening of his life after his deep sleep in the day h_eemed suddenly to have found new strength, which kept him up through thi_ong conversation. It was like a last effort of love which gave him marvellou_nergy; only for a little time, however, for his life was cut shor_mmediately.. But of that later. I will only add now that I have preferred t_onfine myself to the account given by Alexey Fyodorovitch Karamazov. It wil_e shorter and not so fatiguing, though, of course, as I must repeat, Alyosh_ook a great deal from previous conversations and added them to it. Notes o_he Life of the deceased Priest and Monk, the Elder Zossima, taken from hi_wn words by Alexey Fyodorovitch Karamazov.
(a) Father Zossima's Brother.
Beloved fathers and teachers, I was born in a distant province in the north, in the town of V. My father was a gentleman by birth, but of no grea_onsequence or position. He died when I was only two years old, and I don'_emember him at all. He left my mother a small house built of wood, and _ortune, not large, but sufficient to keep her and her children in comfort.
There were two of us, my elder brother Markel and I. He was eight years olde_han I was, of hasty, irritable temperament, but kind-hearted and neve_ronical. He was remarkably silent, especially at home with me, his mother, and the servants. He did well at school, but did not get on with his school- fellows, though he never quarrelled, at least so my mother has told me. Si_onths before his death, when he was seventeen, he made friends with _olitical exile who had been banished from Moscow to our town fo_reethinking, and led a solitary existence there. He was a good scholar wh_ad gained distinction in philosophy in the university. Something made hi_ake a fancy to Markel, and he used to ask him to see him. The young man woul_pend whole evenings with him during that winter, till the exile was summone_o Petersburg to take up his post again at his own request, as he had powerfu_riends.
It was the beginning of Lent, and Markel would not fast, he was rude an_aughed at it. "That's all silly twaddle, and there is no God," he said, horrifying my mother, the servants, and me too. For though I was only nine, _oo was aghast at hearing such words. We had four servants, all serfs. _emember my mother selling one of the four, the cook Afimya, who was lame an_lderly, for sixty paper roubles, and hiring a free servant to take her place.
In the sixth week in Lent, my brother, who was never strong and had a tendenc_o consumption, was taken ill. He was tall but thin and delicate-looking, an_f very pleasing countenance. I suppose he caught cold, anyway the doctor, wh_ame, soon whispered to my mother that it was galloping consumption, that h_ould not live through the spring. My mother began weeping, and, careful no_o alarm my brother, she entreated him to go to church, to confess and tak_he sacrament, as he was still able to move about. This made him angry, and h_aid something profane about the church. He grew thoughtful, however; h_uessed at once that he was seriously ill, and that that was why his mothe_as begging him to confess and take the sacrament. He had been aware, indeed, for a long time past, that he was far from well, and had a year before cooll_bserved at dinner to your mother and me, "My life won't be long among you, _ay not live another year," which seemed now like a prophecy.
Three days passed and Holy Week had come. And on Tuesday morning my brothe_egan going to church. "I am doing this simply for your sake, mother, t_lease and comfort you," he said. My mother wept with joy and grief. "His en_ust be near," she thought, "if there's such a change in him." But he was no_ble to go to church long, he took to his bed, so he had to confess and tak_he sacrament at home.
It was a late Easter, and the days were bright, fine, and full of fragrance. _emember he used to cough all night and sleep badly, but in the morning h_ressed and tried to sit up in an arm-chair. That's how I remember hi_itting, sweet and gentle, smiling, his face bright and joyous, in spite o_is illness. A marvellous change passed over him, his spirit seeme_ransformed. The old nurse would come in and say, "Let me light the lam_efore the holy image, my dear." And once he would not have allowed it an_ould have blown it out.
"Light it, light it, dear, I was a wretch to have prevented you doing it. Yo_re praying when you light the lamp, and I am praying when I rejoice seein_ou. So we are praying to the same God."
Those words seemed strange to us, and mother would go to her room and weep, but when she went in to him she wiped her eyes and looked cheerful. "Mother, don't weep, darling," he would say, "I've long to live yet, long to rejoic_ith you, and life is glad and joyful."
"Ah, dear boy, how can you talk of joy when you lie feverish at night, coughing as though you would tear yourself to pieces."
"Don't cry, mother," he would answer, "life is paradise, and we are all i_aradise, but we won't see it; if we would, we should have heaven on earth th_ext day."
Everyone wondered at his words, he spoke so strangely and positively; we wer_ll touched and wept. Friends came to see us. "Dear ones," he would say t_hem, "what have I done that you should love me so, how can you love anyon_ike me, and how was it I did not know, I did not appreciate it before?"
When the servants came in to him he would say continually, "Dear, kind people, why are you doing so much for me, do I deserve to be waited on? If it wer_od's will for me to live, I would wait on you, for all men should wait on on_nother."
Mother shook her head as she listened. "My darling, it's your illness make_ou talk like that."
"Mother darling," he would say, "there must be servants and masters, but if s_ will be the servant of my servants, the same as they are to me. And anothe_hing, mother, every one of us has sinned against all men, and I more tha_ny."
Mother positively smiled at that, smiled through her tears. "Why, how coul_ou have sinned against all men, more than all? Robbers and murderers hav_one that, but what sin have you committed yet, that you hold yourself mor_uilty than all?"
"Mother, little heart of mine," he said (he had begun using such strang_aressing words at that time), "little heart of mine, my joy, believe me, everyone is really responsible to all men for all men and for everything. _on't know how to explain it to you, but I feel it is so, painfully even. An_ow is it we went on then living, getting angry and not knowing?"
So he would get up every day, more and more sweet and joyous and full of love.
When the doctor, an old German called Eisenschmidt, came:
"Well, doctor, have I another day in this world?" he would ask, joking.
"You'll live many days yet," the doctor would answer, "and months and year_oo."
"Months and years!" he would exclaim. "Why reckon the days? One day is enoug_or a man to know all happiness. My dear ones, why do we quarrel, try t_utshine each other and keep grudges against each other? Let's go straigh_nto the garden, walk and play there, love, appreciate, and kiss each other, and glorify life."
"Your son cannot last long," the doctor told my mother, as she accompanied hi_he door. "The disease is affecting his brain."
The windows of his room looked out into the garden, and our garden was a shad_ne, with old trees in it which were coming into bud. The first birds o_pring were flitting in the branches, chirruping and singing at the windows.
And looking at them and admiring them, he began suddenly begging thei_orgiveness too: "Birds of heaven, happy birds, forgive me, for I have sinne_gainst you too." None of us could understand that at the time, but he she_ears of joy. "Yes," he said, "there was such a glory of God all about me: birds, trees, meadows, sky; only I lived in shame and dishonoured it all an_id not notice the beauty and glory."
"You take too many sins on yourself," mother used to say, weeping.
"Mother, darling, it's for joy, not for grief I am crying. Though I can'_xplain it to you, I like to humble myself before them, for I don't know ho_o love them enough. If I have sinned against everyone, yet all forgive me, too, and that's heaven. Am I not in heaven now?"
And there was a great deal more I don't remember. I remember I went once int_is room when there was no one else there. It was a bright evening, the su_as setting, and the whole room was lighted up. He beckoned me, and I went u_o him. He put his hands on my shoulders and looked into my face tenderly, lovingly; he said nothing for a minute, only looked at me like that.
"Well," he said, "run and play now, enjoy life for me too."
I went out then and ran to play. And many times in my life afterwards _emembered even with tears how he told me to enjoy life for him too. Ther_ere many other marvellous and beautiful sayings of his, though we did no_nderstand them at the time. He died the third week after Easter. He was full_onscious though he could not talk; up to his last hour he did not change. H_ooked happy, his eyes beamed and sought us, he smiled at us, beckoned us.
There was a great deal of talk even in the town about his death. I wa_mpressed by all this at the time, but not too much so, though I cried a goo_eal at his funeral. I was young then, a child, but a lasting impression, _idden feeling of it all, remained in my heart, ready to rise up and respon_hen the time came. So indeed it happened.
(b) Of the Holy Scriptures in the Life of Father Zossima.
I was left alone with my mother. Her friends began advising her to send me t_etersburg as other parents did. "You have only one son now," they said, "an_ave a fair income, and you will be depriving him perhaps of a brillian_areer if you keep him here." They suggested I should be sent to Petersburg t_he Cadet Corps, that I might afterwards enter the Imperial Guard. My mothe_esitated for a long time, it was awful to part with her only child, but sh_ade up her mind to it at last, though not without many tears, believing sh_as acting for my happiness. She brought me to Petersburg and put me into th_adet Corps, and I never saw her again. For she too died three year_fterwards. She spent those three years mourning and grieving for both of us.
From the house of my childhood I have brought nothing but precious memories, for there are no memories more precious than those of early childhood in one'_irst home. And that is almost always so if there is any love and harmony i_he family at all. Indeed, precious memories may remain even of a bad home, i_nly the heart knows how to find what is precious. With my memories of home _ount, too, my memories of the Bible, which, child as I was, I was very eage_o read at home. I had a book of Scripture history then with excellen_ictures, called A Hundred and Four Stories from the Old and New Testament, and I learned to read from it. I have it lying on my shelf now; I keep it as _recious relic of the past. But even before I learned to read, I remembe_irst being moved to devotional feeling at eight years old. My mother took m_lone to mass (I don't remember where my brother was at the time) on th_onday before Easter. It was a fine day, and I remember to-day, as though _aw it now, how the incense rose from the censer and softly floated upward_nd, overhead in the cupola, mingled in rising waves with the sunlight tha_treamed in at the little window. I was stirred by the sight, and for th_irst time in my life I consciously received the seed of God's word in m_eart. A youth came out into the middle of the church carrying a big book, s_arge that at the time I fancied he could scarcely carry it. He laid it on th_eading desk, opened it, and began reading, and suddenly for the first time _nderstood something read in the church of God. In the land of Uz, there live_ man, righteous and God-fearing, and he had great wealth, so many camels, s_any sheep and asses, and his children feasted, and he loved them very muc_nd prayed for them. "It may be that my sons have sinned in their feasting."
Now the devil came before the Lord together with the sons of God, and said t_he Lord that he had gone up and down the earth and under the earth. "And has_hou considered my servant Job?" God asked of him. And God boasted to th_evil, pointing to His great and holy servant. And the devil laughed at God'_ords. "Give him over to me and Thou wilt see that Thy servant will murmu_gainst Thee and curse Thy name." And God gave up the just man He loved so, t_he devil. And the devil smote his children and his cattle and scattered hi_ealth, all of a sudden like a thunderbolt from heaven. And Job rent hi_antle and fell down upon the ground and cried aloud, "Naked came I out of m_other's womb, and naked shall I return into the earth; the Lord gave and th_ord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever and ever."
Fathers and teachers, forgive my tears now, for all my childhood rises u_gain before me, and I breathe now as I breathed then, with the breast of _ittle child of eight, and I feel as I did then, awe and wonder and gladness.
The camels at that time caught my imagination, and Satan, who talked like tha_ith God, and God who gave His servant up to destruction, and His servan_rying out: "Blessed be Thy name although Thou dost punish me," and then th_oft and sweet singing in the church: "Let my prayer rise up before Thee," an_gain incense from the priest's censer and the kneeling and the prayer. Eve_ince then- only yesterday I took it up- I've never been able to read tha_acred tale without tears. And how much that is great, mysterious an_nfathomable there is in it! Afterwards I heard the words of mockery an_lame, proud words, "How could God give up the most loved of His saints fo_he diversion of the devil, take from him his children, smite him with sor_oils so that he cleansed the corruption from his sores with a potsherd- an_or no object except to boast to the devil 'See what My saint can suffer fo_y sake.' "But the greatness of it lies just in the fact that it is a mystery- that the passing earthly show and the eternal verity are brought together i_t. In the face of the earthly truth, the eternal truth is accomplished. Th_reator, just as on the first days of creation He ended each day with praise:
"That is good that I have created," looks upon Job and again praises Hi_reation. And Job, praising the Lord, serves not only Him but all His creatio_or generations and generations, and for ever and ever, since for that he wa_rdained. Good heavens, what a book it is, and what lessons there are in it!
What a book the Bible is, what a miracle, what strength is given with it t_an! It is like a mould cast of the world and man and human nature, everythin_s there, and a law for everything for all the ages. And what mysteries ar_olved and revealed! God raises Job again, gives him wealth again. Many year_ass by, and he has other children and loves them. But how could he love thos_ew ones when those first children are no more, when he has lost them?
Remembering them, how could he be fully happy with those new ones, howeve_ear the new ones might be? But he could, he could. It's the great mystery o_uman life that old grief passes gradually into quiet, tender joy. The mil_erenity of age takes the place of the riotous blood of youth. I bless th_ising sun each day, and, as before, my heart sings to meet it, but now I lov_ven more its setting, its long slanting rays and the soft, tender, gentl_emories that come with them, the dear images from the whole of my long, happ_ife- and over all the Divine Truth, softening, reconciling, forgiving! M_ife is ending, I know that well, but every day that is left me I feel ho_arthly life is in touch with a new infinite, unknown, but approaching life, the nearness of which sets my soul quivering with rapture, my mind glowing an_y heart weeping with joy.
Friends and teachers, I have heard more than once, and of late one may hear i_ore often, that the priests, and above all the village priests, ar_omplaining on all sides of their miserable income and their humiliating lot.
They plainly state, even in print- I've read it myself- that they are unabl_o teach the Scriptures to the people because of the smallness of their means, and if Lutherans and heretics come and lead the flock astray, they let the_ead them astray because they have so little to live upon. May the Lor_ncrease the sustenance that is so precious to them, for their complaint i_ust, too. But of a truth I say, if anyone is to blame in the matter, half th_ault is ours. For he may be short of time, he may say truly that he i_verwhelmed all the while with work and services, but still it's not all th_ime, even he has an hour a week to remember God. And he does not work th_hole year round. Let him gather round him once a week, some hour in th_vening, if only the children at first- the fathers will hear of it and the_oo will begin to come. There's no need to build halls for this, let him tak_hem into his own cottage. They won't spoil his cottage, they would only b_here one hour. Let him open that book and begin reading it without gran_ords or superciliousness, without condescension to them, but gently an_indly, being glad that he is reading to them and that they are listening wit_ttention, loving the words himself, only stopping from time to time t_xplain words that are not understood by the peasants. Don't be anxious, the_ill understand everything, the orthodox heart will understand all! Let hi_ead them about Abraham and Sarah, about Isaac and Rebecca, of how Jacob wen_o Laban and wrestled with the Lord in his dream and said, "This place i_oly"- and he will impress the devout mind of the peasant. Let him read, especially to the children, how the brothers sold Joseph, the tender boy, th_reamer and prophet, into bondage, and told their father that a wild beast ha_evoured him, and showed him his blood-stained clothes. Let him read them ho_he brothers afterwards journeyed into Egypt for corn, and Joseph, already _reat ruler, unrecognised by them, tormented them, accused them, kept hi_rother Benjamin, and all through love: "I love you, and loving you I tormen_ou." For he remembered all his life how they had sold him to the merchants i_he burning desert by the well, and how, wringing his hands, he had wept an_esought his brothers not to sell him as a slave in a strange land. And how, seeing them again after many years, he loved them beyond measure, but h_arassed and tormented them in love. He left them at last not able to bear th_uffering of his heart, flung himself on his bed and wept. Then, wiping hi_ears away, he went out to them joyful and told them, "Brothers, I am you_rother Joseph" Let him read them further how happy old Jacob was on learnin_hat his darling boy was still alive, and how he went to Egypt leaving his ow_ountry, and died in a foreign land, bequeathing his great prophecy that ha_ain mysteriously hidden in his meek and timid heart all his life, that fro_is offspring, from Judah, will come the great hope of the world, the Messia_nd Saviour.
Fathers and teachers, forgive me and don't be angry, that like a little chil_'ve been babbling of what you know long ago, and can teach me a hundred time_ore skilfully. I only speak from rapture, and forgive my tears, for I lov_he Bible. Let him too weep, the priest of God, and be sure that the hearts o_is listeners will throb in response. Only a little tiny seed is needed- dro_t into the heart of the peasant and it won't die, it will live in his sou_ll his life, it will be hidden in the midst of his darkness and sin, like _right spot, like a great reminder. And there's no need of much teaching o_xplanation, he will understand it all simply. Do you suppose that th_easants don't understand? Try reading them the touching story of the fai_sther and the haughty Vashti; or the miraculous story of Jonah in the whale.
Don't forget either the parables of Our Lord, choose especially from th_ospel of St. Luke (that is what I did), and then from the Acts of th_postles the conversion of St. Paul (that you mustn't leave out on an_ccount), and from the Lives of the Saints, for instance, the life of Alexey, the man of God and, greatest of all, the happy martyr and the seer of God, Mary of Egypt- and you will penetrate their hearts with these simple tales.
Give one hour a week to it in spite of your poverty, only one little hour. An_ou will see for yourselves that our people is gracious and grateful, and wil_epay you a hundred foId. Mindful of the kindness of their priest and th_oving words they have heard from him, they will of their own accord help hi_n his fields and in his house and will treat him with more respect tha_efore- so that it will even increase his worldly well-being too. The thing i_o simple that sometimes one is even afraid to put it into words, for fear o_eing laughed at, and yet how true it is! One who does not believe in God wil_ot believe in God's people. He who believes in God's people will see Hi_oliness too, even though he had not believed in it till then. Only the peopl_nd their future spiritual power will convert our atheists, who have tor_hemselves away from their native soil.
And what is the use of Christ's words, unless we set an example? The people i_ost without the Word of God, for its soul is athirst for the Word and for al_hat is good.
In my youth, long ago, nearly forty years ago, I travelled all over Russi_ith Father Anfim, collecting funds for our monastery, and we stayed one nigh_n the bank of a great navigable river with some fishermen. A good lookin_easant lad, about eighteen, joined us; he had to hurry back next morning t_ull a merchant's barge along the bank. I noticed him looking straight befor_im with clear and tender eyes. It was a bright, warm, still, July night, _ool mist rose from the broad river, we could hear the plash of a fish, th_irds were still, all was hushed and beautiful, everything praying to God.
Only we two were not sleeping, the lad and I, and we talked of the beauty o_his world of God's and of the great mystery of it. Every blade of grass, every insect, ant, and golden bee, all so marvellously know their path, thoug_hey have not intelligence, they bear witness to the mystery of God an_ontinually accomplish it themselves. I saw the dear lad's heart was moved. H_old me that he loved the forest and the forest birds. He was a bird-catcher, knew the note of each of them, could call each bird. "I know nothing bette_han to be in the forest," said he, "though all things are good."
"Truly," I answered him, "all things are good and fair, because all is truth.
Look," said I, "at the horse, that great beast that is so near to man; or th_owly, pensive ox, which feeds him and works for him; look at their faces, what meekness, what devotion to man, who often beats them mercilessly. Wha_entleness, what confidence and what beauty! It's touching to know tha_here's no sin in them, for all, all except man, is sinless, and Christ ha_een with them before us."
"Why," asked the boy, "is Christ with them too?"
"It cannot but be so," said I, "since the Word is for all. All creation an_ll creatures, every leaf is striving to the Word, singing glory to God, weeping to Christ, unconsciously accomplishing this by the mystery of thei_inless life. Yonder," said I, "in the forest wanders the dreadful bear, fierce and menacing, and yet innocent in it." And I told him how once a bea_ame to a great saint who had taken refuge in a tiny cell in the wood. And th_reat saint pitied him, went up to him without fear and gave him a piece o_read. "Go along," said he, "Christ be with you," and the savage beast walke_way meekly and obediently, doing no harm. And the lad was delighted that th_ear had walked away without hurting the saint, and that Christ was with hi_oo. "Ah," said he, "how good that is, how good and beautiful is all God'_ork!" He sat musing softly and sweetly. I saw he understood. And he slep_eside me a light and sinless sleep. May God bless youth! And I prayed for hi_s I went to sleep. Lord, send peace and light to Thy people!