I remember my first visit to the church about fifteen years ago. Someone said there was a monastery in Pechersk district of Kiev, where a wonderworking icon of the Mother of God was kept, and, supposedly, if one came there early in the morning, stood at the entire first acathistus and prayed, he or she could ask for certain things, and everything would come true. Yes, this was exactly how I memorized it fifteen years ago: “ask, and everything will come true”. A bait of miracle and wishes fulfilment in those rather troubled times. And I certainly went there, not so much for the sake of asking, but rather to see the icon which was so miraculous to fulfil all people’s wishes. Was it really wonderworking? Just to mention, I was not gullible at all, quite the contrary, but for some reason the mysterious wonderworking icon and the nationwide worship of the Mother of God – the authority – became convincing for me.
I did everything as appropriate: got up early, took the first metro train, walked for fifteen minutes from the metro station (according to the set condition), but once I approached the icon I got stupefied. I recall I immediately believed with my entire heart in her contour reflected on the glass, believed that a real God’s providence was manifested in front of me, and it would be a grave sin not to trust it. Rings and jewels suspended on threads heightened the initial impression. And, strange as it may seem, on my first visit I didn’t ask Her for anything, although I came there with such a purpose, to tell the truth. I only remember how, being spellbound and kissing the glass, I uttered a single word: “Thanks”. Why? I don’t know. My life in those times was full of daily tense situations associated with dirt and danger, and it seemed to me the entire world was aggressive towards me and only permanent readiness to repulse attacks could preserve honour and dignity… And suddenly there was She with her sweet, kind and slightly amazed gaze, the Holy Mother of God! It seemed that Her wide and very beautiful eyes with fathomless living pupils, where you can look into with utmost sincerity only, see and know everything. Those eyes looked at me with such a universal-scale love I had never encountered anywhere before that I easily took off my armour and let them penetrate me very deep inside, in my very heart hardened by the earthly reality. The day before, and the day before that day, and a week and even a month before, my life had been filled with telephone calls, participation in incessant stark fights and showdowns when I pressurized someone, settled disputes, defended some interests, etc. And I was so tired of all that, and it seemed to me there was no end to that vicious circle. Yet, there I was standing, so meek and resigned, as if near a saving lighthouse amidst a disastrous storm, standing in front of something truly inexplicable, and my soul was so pleased, so pleased! Today I recall the first moment of our meeting with such gratitude, although a banal consumer interest enticed me into religion at that point. As I remember, on my second visit I failed to ask for anything again, and only on the third time I managed to overcome strange sudden modesty and asked for solution of a financial issue. And the issue was resolved! A miracle did take place.
Today I understand the mechanism of church-related and other miracles, so now it’s funny, but this is not the point. Having abandoned the vicious area once and for all, I look as if from a mountain at my bygone ferments and wanderings around a gloomy valley, and, thanks God, very many things are now clear to me. However, when I was just starting to learn Orthodoxy, I was seized by religious mystery and the external untouchable church authority right away. And could it be otherwise? The mystery allured, while the authority compelled obedience. The mystery cultivated fear of God, whereas the authority fettered with its immutable canons and rules. The mystery whispered, called and urged, while the authority drove consciousness further into servility, where you could address God in whisper and on your knees only, in addition to deep sorrow. And all that did not prevent me from continuing my “mutinous” existence. At the same time, I was further more often buying Christian literature, visiting other churches and monasteries, and attending services. Nonetheless, years passed, while my individual mediocre churching gave no effect whatsoever, for I did not understand and there were no one to give me a hint that the main thing was LOVE, which could not grow in blind tall walls of inexplicable miracles, mystery and the unshakeable church authority. Others may have had it differently, but I sometimes attended churches with same doom and desire of comfort as I went to a pub to get drunk (in order to dull the pain). But wherever I were, I always remembered that first church in Pechersk, returned there and, just like the first time, stood in front of the luminous face of dear Mother of God, trembling with my entire soul that seemed to have taken a chill. The soul cannot take a chill, of course, neither can it be ailing. It’s obvious to me now, but then… then I was as if warming near the icon, revelling in the enigmatic unexplainable grace and boundless love radiating from it. Perhaps, it was a call from there, but true Love was not known to me then, and so I failed to respond, to accept and grow it within myself. And, though miracles of implemented desires continued, strengthening my unsteady faith, the time passed and life threw me on new barricades, or rather, to be honest, I wilfully threw myself on those and fought again, and was again beaten in revenge by sweeping fatal circumstances. Same situations again and again, never ending, as if in a circle. And I would be probably circling like this until today, if once I haven’t heard the name of Rigden Djappo…
After a number of difficult victories and appalling defeats everything has changed in my life radically. Now, there is neither senseless war in consciousness, nor mirages or illusions; I have further less secrets and desires, and it becomes further clearer to me where I should go and what should make my life. Yet, the main thing is that now I know the revealed secret of the Mother of God – Mary, not Christ’s mother, but his beloved and most faithful disciple Mary Magdalene. And may the truth seditious for the church agitates minds bound in the vice of dogmata and knowing no freedom. Spiritual freedom is my air! And what’s the difference indeed? Mary does exist! She is as real as the now in which I’m writing, and you, dear reader, are reading these frank lines. Feel the now! Do you feel fullness? This is as full as the light of her Love penetrating all barriers of consciousness that always deceives. Only feelings never lie!
Who cares about any side opinions, when one’s entire life is clearly visible? I was drowning in the mire for many years, and those sweet wonderful eyes truly rescued me numerous times and finally saved me. This is a real miracle, distinct from hackneyed wishes fulfilment. At that, a hundred-times greater miracle is the good news that Gabriel is on the Earth again! And the lost Knowledge has been brought again to be easily taken by anyone who wishes, and everyone who takes it will by all means saturate his or her spirit. And everything’s understandable, everything’s quiet, and there is neither fight nor doubt. And it’s clear where to go as if I have already arrived. The main point is known: Love should be gained and grown. From now on I just need to live in it and always thank Rigden and the Most Holy Mother of God for their grace.
Prepared by VN