Life without the Elder Nicholas
The life of Alexey passed in prayers and simple work.
Long winter, wonderful spring, short summer, autumn, after which the severe winter came again… Again and again, it was necessary to find in oneself more and more of God’s Light and less and less to be sad about the imperfections of this world.
Gradually more and more Alexey’s life filled with the Presence of God!
The elder Nicholas became very weak in body…
Sometimes, he asked Alexey’s help to rise from bed and kneel before the icon. And it at times happened that he did not get up at all to pray.
He became — as if transparent, as if the soul did not hold on in the body anymore, but has moved to a completely different world.
A bright smile on the lips of the elder was all the time, as if he already saw his abode of paradise…
So, quietly, with a smile on his lips — he departed from this life.
… As if Alexey has been orphaned without the elder Nicholas.
He hardly got used to total loneliness.
While there was the elder Nicholas — everything was easier!
The elder guided the routine of their entire life. And there was a feeling that with each passing day, they were approaching the Heavenly Kingdom by souls.
But in solitude — Alexey did not work even to maintain the normality of prayers before God and regularity in life.
Sometimes he was flushed with a burning love for God, life was filled with a sense of the Presence of God nearby! And it seemed that even a little bit — and all the unknown secrets will be revealed to him!…
But then again came the feeling that he misses the main thing which he must do, and that he is wasting his strength, and that good and love on the Earth does not increase from his spiritual labors, no warmth and light come to children of God!
Alexey undertook stricter fasts, all his life became more ascetic. He exhausted the body with hunger and unceasing prayers, eager to comprehend the World of God.
Thoughts about the meaning of his own life, about the purpose of being here on the Earth — filled Alexey again and again with dissatisfaction for the lonely feats of monastic life.
After all, he did not want to “save” himself alone when he accepted the monastic path! He dreamed for God and people to dedicate his life!
He read the Gospels again and again, trying to apply to his life what Jesus told His disciples.
And Alexey decided to start helping those who lived in the surrounding villages.
Before, he also wanted it, but the elder Nicholas dissuaded: “Do not force people to live by your faith, to have faith according to your thoughts! Everyone is responsible for oneself before God!”
Now Alexey decided not to instruct people in life with his spiritual preaching, but simply to help in what they needed: “Since you did this to one of these my lesser brothers, you did to Me” (Matt 25:40).
And he began to help widows, the elderly and infirm in their hard life. He repaired leaking roofs, cleaned the wells, chopped firewood, wrote petitions…
He himself defined this as his monastic obedience. And it was more joyful for him due to the joy and surprise of those people who did not expect help from anyone — either God or people.