The BackShop Journal

A Gallery of Thoughts on Arts, Culture and Orthodox Christian Spirituality

Why Did I Survive?

On a hot summer morning in August '93, I was walking to work as usual. My path ran through the old Moscow courtyards, which at that time had not yet been subject to barbaric destruction. They were not revamped in a European way. And the old wooden benches with green paint kindled more tenderness than sadness.

There was five hundred meters left till work, and the last courtyard was as deserted and green as the previous ones. Suddenly, behind me, I heard a voice: "Do you mind?" - and I turned around. A woman of about sixty in a colorful dress stood in front of me. I cannot remember her face well, even though I tried many times afterwards.

"Are you baptised?" She asked.

"Yes," I answered, and fell silent: I did not know what to say next...

"Why don't you wear a cross?"

I was really not wearing a cross at the time.

"Always wear it!" - she said in a calm voice, without any admonition or judgment. She just asked me to do it... And I was struck by this simple request.

I don't remember how I reached my work, and can't recall where this woman went. But on the same day, my mother, at my request, bought me a cross in the church, a simple tin one, which I carried for ten years, until its ear fell off. But I still have it always with me.

Why am I writing about this? Soon the autumn of '93 came, and whence I was in those horrid day, I could have easily not returned. But who would have known then... Even if I have, what would have been different? I just did what I was asked, and forgot about this meeting for a long time.

It wasn't after many years later that I learned to look attentively at the world around me and to notice "trifles", details; understanding came first, and then a sense of the presence of God on Earth. In every step of the way. In each of our sighs. The feeling of His unceasing care, which gives strength in our work and confidence in our future. But this is impossible without His will and care.

I understand now how often miracles occur in life, so overt and obvious. And I cannot even grasp after this discovery how it is possible - not to believe in God...

Sergei Stepanov

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