“Mama,” young Mischa said one day while they were fishing and Pavel was tending the garden.  “I want to receive the sacrament of Communion.”

“One needs a priest for that.”

“Then we should find one.”

“What about all the Old Believers, including our Saint, who deprived themselves of the Eucharist because they believed the Priesthood was corrupted by wrong practices?”

“Is that why we don’t go to Church?”

“No. It is to be solitary.”

“I would like to see a town and take Communion.”

“We’ll talk to Pavel.”

“There is a village north of here that I have seen in the distance. We are not Old Believers, Mischa,” Pavel said over lunch.

“Haven’t you missed taking Communion?”

“Yes, but there are many Saint stories of hermits who did not take Communion for very long periods of time.”

“Can we go see this town?”

“I’ll need to talk to your mother about it.”

Mischa went outside.

“I do not want to keep him here against his will,” Elena said.

“Then what do you think we should do?”

“Let him see the town and talk to a Priest.”

“Do you want to go?”

“No.”

“I’ll take him.”

“Ok.”

Elena passed the three days praying when she felt worried, and distracting herself with chores and needlework.

Finally they returned.

“Well?” she asked.

“The center of the town was loud and crowded. There was a lot of joking and arguing over money. I did not like it. But I did like the Church and the Priest, Fr. Raphael. Their chanting sounds different. He said he would need to talk more to me before I could take Communion.”

“Did you make a plan with him to do that?”

“He would like once a week, but if it is too far, then once a month.”

“What did you think, Pavel?”

“I thought maybe you would like it if I traded some furs for some sugar to make a cake?”

“Honey on acorn bread is good enough for me. I do not need any city things.”

“Not even pots or pans?”

“No. We do fine.”

“The Priest is very nice.”

“Nice?”

“Easy to talk to.”

“Talking is over-rated. You need very little of it to bake bread.”

“More to make Communion.”

“Yes. He will criticize me for why we live here as we do, and I don’t want to have to justify myself.”

“You do not know that. He did not criticize our life to me or Mischa.”

“Yet. Even if he doesn’t criticize, I will have to explain everything to him. I haven’t even done that to you.”

“But isn’t Christ’s body and blood worth that?”

“You’re trapping me.”

“If so, it’s not my trap but the Church’s.”

“Saying that puts me under obligation and obedience. I do not like it.”

“’To obey is better than sacrifice.’”

“Please don’t pressure me.”

“Ok. But can Mischa go again?”

“Yes. If he wants. Do you want to go under the Priest too?”

“I do not want to leave you out.”

“So now I am responsible for your not taking Communion, too.”

“Elena. Don’t fret so much.”

“I left the world to live here, not to join it again.”

“Joining the Church is not the same as joining the world.”

“It will change the meaning of who is our neighbor.”

“Mischa needs neighbors. You and I have had them before. He hasn’t.”

“Maybe we should wait till he can have them by himself.”

“He wants to go to Church now. And I’m not sure we shouldn’t with him.”

“I suppose we shouldn’t isolate ourselves from those he will know,” Elena conceded. “I will go next time.”

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