of Grey is the Color of Hope by Irina Ratushinskaya

Yes, she is very strong. And talented. And prepared by Alexander Solzhenitsyn,

“They issue me rations for this journey: half a loaf of black bread and some herring. From my former reading of samizdat, I know that this means twenty-four hours of travel before the first transit stop. Eating the herring is inadvisable, because it makes you terribly thirsty, and there will be nothing to drink. Thank you, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, for your priceless counsels! Who can say whether Igor and I would have had the presence of mind to burn all letters and addresses while the KGB hammered on our doors, had we not read your works? Or would I have been able to summon sufficient control to not bat an eyelid when they stripped me naked in prison? Without you, would I have grasped that cardinal principle for all prisoners of conscience: “Never believe them, never fear them, never ask them for anything”? Thanks to you, even such trivia as the business with the herring is known to me in advance.”

My shame would show. While discussing Solzhenitsyn at Church during a class with my Priest, whose wife is loaning me this book, I mentioned that these lessons can be learned anytime one is in a bad situation beyond one’s control. Where an aggressive force is violating your personal space and/or seeking to take things from you. Maybe I have learned my lesson too well as I have this reaction (never believe, never ask. I’m less successful at never fear) to people all the time. My only guard is distance if I can achieve it.

Paranoia in my case? I ask you to consider that only selfless acts do not seek to take things from us in an invasive way. Isn’t wanting gratitude, payback, or glory a violation? I acknowledge that I commit these invasive sins too, so my space can be an act of generosity. I remember during the devastation after my ex-husband left, that a woman who had visited a weekday class at my Protestant Church came before a Sunday service on Valentine’s day and gave me a gold heart decoration and quickly left. It was from God and I never saw her again. She didn’t want gratitude, payback, or glory. Just for me to feel loved by him. Thank you.

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