In Humility, the Soul Is Healed
Time passed, and the ordinary life of Alexey did not seem to have anything meaningful… Day after day passed…
Alexey used to, but still craved for more in the feat of monastic life.
Once he asked the elder:
“Why do we not see Jesus? Why cannot we hear His words?”
“We apparently do not deserve it yet… When it’s necessary, the Lord says that He will be heard by the deaf too!
“Jesus said that ‘if two gather in My Name, then I am among them’. You do not believe Jesus? Do you not believe that He is now with us here? And — that He hears every word?”
“I believe, but…”
“Weak is your faith so far!… You — work on yourself-soul! And the result — belongs to God!”
“What is needed for hands to not fall and continue the efforts?”
“Faith, hope, love!
“The most important thing is not to receive a rank in the hierarchy of the church… But — from God — we must strive to get the rank of purity and approach to Him!
“And when that time will come — that depends on His Grace!”
“What do you think: why has God placed us here?”
“I don’t know that… But if we obey the Will of the Lord, then maybe we’ll find out about it!”
“But how to know it, if we do not hear the Voice of God? And how to pray — to receive an answer?”
“God understands everything, and He hears and sees! Don’t be afraid to tell Him! You by our usual words can tell Him about your love for Him!
“Prayers that we now repeat someone once said the first time from the heart… And then those prayers were written down and are repeated…
“The main thing is that words should come from the heart!
“Pray for all people!…”
“But do these prayers really help them?”
“It was not for nothing you were exiled here!… You surely would embarrass all minds with your questions! Faith in you is not enough, there are many doubts!…
“Let’s go watering the garden, otherwise you will grumble in winter that God did not send us food!”
* * *
Alexey was overcome by longing for God. He was now eager — through prayers zealous and persistent — to reach sublime states. Work on the household — he considered as an annoying hindrance.
But he had to work a lot on the farm. All their survival was dependent on their simple work.
Alexey was not used to rural work. He lived from childhood in a rich house, surrounded by servants who performed all the simple economic work. He was not lazy, and he was always ready to work with zeal. But for him, the work was — in studying, in reading books, in prayers, and not digging ground and chopping wood…
And here — so much time and effort he needed to spent on “dirty” work, and not in an elevated state to pronounce prayers!
And this was very saddening for Alexey. But, the more he was sad, the more orders elder Nicholas gave him. Even the repair of the temple, which was dilapidated, he started, although people had not entered it at all for a long time…
Alexey did not grumble, tried in everything, obeyed the elder, but he was often subject to discouragement…
Unable to withstand, one day he asked the question:
“How can we approach God, if we dig the earth like peasants, if we like carpenters repair the temple?…”
The elder Nicholas answered with a soft smile:
“They say that Jesus also was trained in carpentry…”
After a pause, he added:
“God can be felt not only by preaching from the pulpit the words of God to parishioners. You can feel Him — when digging a garden, if being with Him in your heart!
“You can fulfill this way any other work!
“You understand: self-pity is destructive!… You seem to tie yourself to the sin of despondency! From self-pity — you lose strength, and you cannot feel the joy of God! But those forces could be sent both to love for God, and the righteous deeds of work!
“I went through it myself sometime…
“Do you want me to tell you how God taught me humility?”
… Alexey happily nodded. They sat down on the bench, which was recently repaired. The elder began to speak — and in his eyes the sparkle of mirth lighted up, which Alexey did not often see in him:
“Monastic obedience can teach a lot!
“It teaches to humble pride and fulfill the will of another person. It can be done with a help of, for example, an elder — instead of one’s own will.
“Who has learned this, having obtained subdued pride and subordinated mind, this one can take God’s Will — in exchange for one’s own will!
“If the elder is holy or, at least, reasonable, then great is the benefit!
“If the mentor is not wise, but only tyrants the novice, flaunting his authority, — even in these conditions obedience can teach a lot.”
… Elder Nicholas smiled in his memories:
“There was with me such a test from the Lord, through which I began to obtain humility.
“My instructor edified me, giving the assignments, contradicting common sense! He was the first, to whom I was assigned as a monk to serve his needs.
“Then, I just came to the monastery, and everything was new for me. And the books of the wise, I did not read much yet…
“And my ‘mentor’, like a man who has lost his mind, sprinkled his spittle in anger at me, often attacked with shouts, or even beat if I tried to say a word of disagreement… He made me do work completely senseless…
“At first, I was all burned with outrage… But what to do — I did not know… Not to obey — I was afraid, because I could be exiled for that from the monastery. And such exile seemed to me more terrible than death, because I thought that by this I would be exiled forever also from God.
“And to understand, how to fulfill necessary for nobody work, spending time and effort in it — instead of bringing benefit to the brethren and the monastery, or to spend the time in prayer, — I could not…
“I did that work through overcoming the indignation of the mind and the fatigue of the flesh…
“Now it’s ridiculous for me to recall… But then — it was hard!
“Telling you this story, I do not mean that — in humility — it’s necessary to do stupid jobs! Because by adherence to foolish tasks according to the will of some religious leaders, who order to obey them, — a lot of evil in this world is committed. Distinction — it is necessary! Otherwise, there are those who ‘have left their will’, fanatics, who can kill ‘for faith’, burn in bonfires… And in that they see their spiritual feats…
“You are not such insane, but you are lacking humility!
“I had to understand all this for a long time…
“Then — the wise elder had appeared in the monastery who freed me from that tutor. Then I began to learn to feel heat in the heart, to immerse the mind into heart. He taught me how to aspire to God by soul and thoughts, how — in our humility — God can change everything that comes into our lives. Because, if God sees humility, not pride, — then the Grace of God is revealed!
“But in monastic life, even when the elder is intelligent, it is not always that the novice gets pleasure by what happens… When you prevail over reluctance and restraint in work on the household, then the work will give you joy! And prayer will be to help, will fill with strength!”
… For sure! The more Alexey understood instructions of his elder, the easier everything became. Sometimes — as if heart was singing when he was sawing and planning boards for church repair, or when he was mowing hay, digging the vegetable garden, chopping wood…
And prayers sometimes became different. Like — all the same words, but they — like a song of the soul to God were exalted! And — like God is near! Truly, not always it turned out, but more often the Presence of invisible God enveloped with Love and Peace!
Increasingly, the prayer in the heart — as if became alive!
One winter frosty day, the ringing silence filled the space — and Alexey saw the Shining Light!
What a miracle it was!
The silence had filled with the Presence of Living God! There cannot already be doubted!
But this did not last long. And again, Alexey could not return to this state, no matter how hard he tried.
Alexey told the elder about that.
And the elder Nicholas answered him in reply:
“The Holy Spirit’s wonderful touches — change us, but not immediately and forever…
“For me — it needed ten years of work to experience this. And for you — two years have not passed, how quiet and warm heart has been cognized!
“And thank the Lord for this Grace!
“A grateful soul easily is in a humble state!
“But for a proud person — humility is mastered hard!
“Thank God for everything! Through that — salvation from pride will come! And humility will be mastered easier!”