A question to myself
I might be wrong, but I noticed that many ordinary people, who do not fundamentally deny the existence of God (e.g.: “might be something somewhere”), separate God from their everyday life. So it looks like that: God is in church and we drop in from time to time, in order to respect tradition or out of a custom or to ask for something or to safeguard against something or someone, and as for our life it flows by itself.
There may be a point in such run of things: to find God at a particular place, in a particular circumstance, through a particular man. May be only then will one come to feel His existence, His will, His assistance. My granny used to say: “If God won’t come, He will send someone”.
I have a girlfriend who thinks just the same. She was drawn to this conclusion through a long chain of events, which started with an insignificant meeting long ago. Recently she told me about it and here is her story.
With every passing year the recollections of that time become brighter, just like the green of leaves turns into the splendor of gold after a single cool night.
It was a warm, tender autumn with its goldish whisper of foliage under the feet, mild breeze of falling leaves and transparency of abandoned parks. Yet I failed to see this beauty and enjoy the tranquility of nature. It was my first year of student life. I had been so eager to become a student, to make up for a big city, freedom, and independence. At last the dream came true and I became a student of a remarkable aged University, with a student card comfortably in my pocket and a new student life ahead of me.
All out of a sudden, I found out that my home and me was one single whole, it was rooted deep in my heart, was a part of it. Instead of expected joy there came a desperate pain; monotonous and bitter. The first month was a horror. Its leitmotiv “back home” became an obsession. Disgust for a communal way of live made me wander till dusk, rustling dry leaves, which seemed dead after they detached from their branches. I wish I could lie by them. My soul was as dry and distorted. Just round the corner the student life boiled over, causing my wounds to ache. The way of life in the dormitory (at first I had to sleep on the newspapers instead of the bed- sheet) was shocking after mother’s imperceptible but consistent care. Total indifference of the neighbors, who simply failed to see me (once girls decided to annihilate annoying flies and slapped them right on me while I was sleeping), was on the verge of cruelty and depressed me. In a word it was a loss of love, care, he lping hand and stability at once. What a pain it was.
Now, when I am recollecting those days, I am almost sure that I wasn’t the only one to suffer in that hive of a dormitory. And certainly it required great effort and great personal qualities to get distracted from one’s own cherished woes and see someone crying. These great personal qualities are great not only because they presuppose high personal morality, but also because they are of a really great spiritual size, which for the most people is not the right size, is off-size. To love one’s neighbor is a widespread, though a hard gained truth. Now I know that if you remember it, your personal pain will be in the background. But at that distant time it was not me, but another who remembered about that.
It was one of those desperate days, when my former classmate came up with me and explained: “While in the tram I noticed you and that you are upset, so I came up to find out what the matter is, and whether I can help you.” It was so simple. It seems a trifle. He just passed by, and saw me on his way and put off his business in order to ask and help.
When I remember my school years I can’t but admit that my classmates could hardly have loved me. I was an annoying komsomol leader and he might also hate a lot of my activities. Yet when he saw me upset he came up to help. In fact he could hardly have helped me, but the very presence of someone, whom I could confide in, with whom I could share my bitter pain was the best possible help I could dream of then, this broke my loneliness and gave me a break in the spell of misfortunes.
Since then he became a friend of mine and of my family. It was not once that I looked around to seek help and got it from him, who always forgot about his wounds and came up to help and share pain.
Since then I am always deeply moved by the simplest truth “carry each other’s burdens”. It is so simple and it is so hard. On our life path we sometimes come across a road fork and in an instance we are to decide which way to take further: our own or our neighbors. It is in this short moment that you decide whether you step towards God or backwards. And as usual even the best of us chose our own way.
It is easy to be a “believer”, to go to church, to pray, to keep the fast, and even if you happened to break something you can go and confess and restore your “Christian kit” again. What is really hard is to “bear the neighbor’s burdens”, especially if it is not your best neighbor, especially if it threatens your welfare. Is it at all possible? Is it not madness?
It is not! It is hard for you and God Whom you locked in the church, like you put a goldfish into the aquarium in order to decorate the interior, He gives you a helping hand through the hands of your neighbor. Here He is and it is his voice, which calls from within to share somebody’s trouble.