Updated: Oct 4, 2022
Nikolai Velimirovich (adapted translation)
Vincent van Gogh - The Cypress Tree and Flowers
A beggar knocked on the door of the hut, which the Black Raven filled with thought and prayer.
When Raven opened the door, the beggar fixed his eyes on the face of the owner and stood silent as a statue.
- What good are you looking for, brother? - the question escaped Raven's tongue. The raven took him by the arm, led him into his abode of thoughts and prayers, and remained there with him until the cold mask of the moon replaced the fiery face of the sun.
- You know, when my mother was dying,- the beggar explained with the annoyance of a man who talks about things either too well known or completely unknown, - before her death, she told me that she had given birth to a twin, at the same time as me, but that he disappeared from cradle and that I will have no rest until I find him. My mother gave up her soul easily, and my seventy years, filled with unfulfilled hope and unsuccessful pursuit of a twin, gradually flowed away. Therefore, I look at you, after vainly peering into millions of others, maybe I find my secret in you.
At this time, owls screamed near the hut. The beggar became angry and began to scold the night birds: “As if people want their disgusting singing!” Who is it?
- My twins, - said Raven. - Do not be angry, brother, because they also do not like the daytime noise of people. The silence of the night is the only stage for their songs. Their nighttime singing and vision aligns and complements our daytime.
The beggar, perplexed, fumbled with his staff in the corner of the hut, as if he were looking for new thoughts. Chickens fluttered out of the corner, driven by a fright that was more than the air in their bodies.
With annoyance and not without irony, the beggar asked:
- Maybe they are your twins too?
- Yes, - Raven answered calmly, - they are mine and your twins.
The beggar was silent, surprised by words he had never heard in his seventy years. And Raven was silent, thinking about the speed of the stars dancing in the sky one around the other, and about the grace of the old atoms, revolving one around the other in the eye of the beggar, and about God Who looked at all this and ruled with His smile.
And when the deep night came, the beggar said:
- Give me something to eat, brother. I'm hungry. Raven tore his eyes from his visions, for he heard the voice of the beggar, but did not hear the words. Then, nevertheless, he deduced the meaning of the words from the voice that reached him and answered:
- I give you what God gave me and the owls, and what I myself constantly ate today - air and water. Breathe in the air slowly and deeply, drink water with the thought of God, and hunger will leave you. And tomorrow we will pray for bread. You see, Angels feed on ether, and God feeds on a smile!
That night it rained heavily, and the beggar was kept awake by the beating of the jets on the wooden roof, and the noise of the running streams. Then he woke up Raven, asking him to help him pass the time with his tales.
- Well, - said the twin of every creature, - time shortens the remaining path both ours and the sun’s, so why don’t we shorten time as well. But how to shorten what does not exist, did not exist and will not exist? You see, time is one of those fairy tales. In fact, the changing movement of a fairy tale and the pursuit of a fairy tale constitute the fairy tale of time.
Here, let's say, two rays of the sun come from the same point in the morning, but one falls on the earth, and the other on Jupiter. When you meet a foreigner, think that your genealogy and his genealogy go back to the beginning of history and fall on the same point, on the same husband and wife. What, then, is easier than finding your twin?
I am the twin of everything except God. Everything that exists once slept in the same womb with me. Everything that came out of this womb, with or without eyes, with or without a brain, are my brothers and sisters. And my father is my brother, and my mother is my sister. When you assimilate this tale, you will find the twin you are looking for, you will also find peace, which, like a shadow, has been invisibly hovering next to you for seventy years.
You are the son of humanity, not the son of one man and one woman. Thousands of generations worked for you, carried you like an eternal secret, until finally they handed you over to your mother to reveal you to the world. An ancient and multifunctional machine poured you from barrel to barrel, from father to son, until, finally, from the ruins of everything that preceded, your barrel appeared in the abyss of universal Maya.
Under the weight of a thousand generations it is hard to walk straight, hard also bent over, hard on the legs, hard on the head.
Nevertheless, the most truthful chronicler of the past is the present.
We know about our ancestors what we know about ourselves, and we do not know about them what we do not know about ourselves.
Man is given one mother, like one golden talent, not in order to bury this talent, but in order to multiply it, woe to the one who says: "I had one mother, and I buried her." And good for the one who says: "I was given one mother, and now I have ten mothers." Woe to the mother who says: "I had one son, I buried him, and now I am no longer a mother." One son was given to her to open her eyes to the many sons weeping under neighboring roofs. One son was given to her not to have, but to learn how to be a mother.
The tale of motherhood and brotherhood is a tale that the sun knows and appreciates, but people anticipate and underestimate. Be a mother and a priest to every living being. For a mother is only a potato oven if she is not a priest. And the priest, if he is not a mother, is like a cook who keeps empty pots on the fire and promises dinner to the hungry.
When God, the Mother of the world, speaks of His children, He says: "My Son." Why don't you also say about all your neighbors who are circling from day to night and from night to day with this sick planet: "My twin"? Speak the truth, and the truth will make you young and calm.
One day a raven croaked in front of my hut, and I said to him: "Good morning, brother." And he was pleased, and he asked how he could repay the courtesy. “You, brother, have lived two hundred years on earth, - I answered. - You croaked over my cradle, and you will croak over my grave; tell me something about God and people. Raven said: “God has one heart for all His children, which is why He calls it in the singular: “Son.” And a person has a heart made up of hearts, and therefore sees everything in plurality.
My twin, water bubbles deep underground and talks about the wonders of the world, about what it saw from the clouds when it was a steam. Steam rumbles high in the clouds and speaks of miracles, of what has been seen in the darkness under the earth. And the water underground does not know that it is the twin of the water in the clouds. In such ignorance, such self-forgetfulness, a person lives. The tale of self-forgetfulness is a prickly tale of the earth.
The next day, before the old man got up, Black Raven went down to the village and brought bread, enough for two people for the whole day. Before eating, Raven crossed the bread and read a prayer: “Blessed be the wheat-sister, our twin on earth, who gave her life to feed us. May the rays of the sun be blessed, entering into the ears of wheat, from which this bread is; and water drunk by wheat; and substances that nourished wheat; and the soil in which the crop grew trustingly and joyfully; and hands that grew bread, reaped, threshed, baked; and the souls that gave it to us. May the wheat forgive us for eating it. We bring it from death back to life. We eat it out of love, not out of hate, just as it fed on the flesh and blood of our ancestors, kings and beggars, buried in the ground where it grew. Forgive and help, sister-wheat. Enter into us and unite with us, and help us with your beauty and kindness, so that we may unite with God, as with you. After all, you, holy wheat and mother, are God's body and God's blood."
And when they ate bread, Raven took a ladle of water and gave it to the guest, blessing like this: "Blessed be hydrogen and oxygen, the great elements of the great water element on earth. May all reservoirs and all channels, and all arteries through which this water flowed for thousands of years, all stones, all spurs, all clouds, plants and remains, all channels and paths of this water, be blessed. May the divine moisture, full of the Spirit of God and bright ether, our brother, be poured over our bodies. May it have the effect of the blood of God in us, nourishing, cleansing, refreshing our body and spirit. May it enter into us, as into the temple of the Holy Spirit, and may it help its own and our feelings, our holy twin sister, water of many kinds". After the meal, the owner and his guest, the twins, left the hut.
The touched beggar embraced the Black Raven and said:
- I fulfilled my mother's covenant, found a twin, and found peace for my soul. Life and death are now for me equally dear temples of peace.
Anxiety prevented him from speaking. The old man sat down on the dewy grass. The raven took elder's head on his chest, and the sun, the great high priest of God's altar, smiled at the soul of the poor and raised it on high.
The twin raven dug a grave for him near his hut, planted irises on the grave and called the birds to sing him away together.