Priest George Chistyakov: Meeting
The publishing house "Nicaea" published a book by priest George Chistyakov, "In Search of the Eternal City. About meeting with Christ. " We publish the chapter “Meeting” from it in the author’s edition.
The birds, without a moment's silence, as if they were really praying to God – “in their Latin,” as said by Osip Mandelstam. They are surprisingly many – in every bush, on every tree and right in the grass. And pouring from four in the morning, without ceasing, tenui gutture, as they say in Ovid, or “from their tender throat”, the purest sounds of this person inaccessible “Latin”. Inaccessible and beautiful.
And the garden is filled with "fragrant breath of lilac." Parkovaya, or Hungarian. This lilac is special, its bushes grow to huge sizes, but in bouquets it is not preserved, broken – it fades at once. However, each bush itself looks like a giant bouquet. "A smile in everything, life in everything." This is Tyutchev, whom I discovered last winter.
"Life in everything." And for some reason I’m sad … And for some reason it seems that in my life there will never be anything good, because childhood has ended forever. And what awaits me ahead – it is better not to think about it. For I am already sixteen … Brezhnev has already brought troops into Czechoslovakia, and the sixties immediately became a thing of the past.
Therefore, it’s good only here, far from Moscow, where lilac is fragrant, where birds sing, and my neighbors, two elderly ladies (mother and daughter), read ladies' novels: Locke, Olivia Wetsley, Claude Farrer and so on. Novels that describe luxury villas standing directly above the seashore, the smell of baked lobster and ladies in silk dresses driving open cars. The novels, which they themselves reprinted on typewriter, took the original for a few days from some kind of “lucky man” who owns “an excellent library”. But only I am in these novels, two or three of which (later, after many years), I read not without pleasure, then for some reason did not find anything interesting.
Then I read Dickens. Book after book. And then he climbed into the attic – to sort through old magazines: Russians, such as Niva and Rest, and French, also preserved from the tsarist era, incredibly dusty and for the most part terribly vulgar. True, it is thanks to these magazines that I still remember some poems from Sully-Prudom and Francois Koppe – poets whom, it seems, now in France no one has been reading for a long time.
Among these magazines I found two or three torn Apollo books with Gumilyov’s poems, a poet, as he himself uttered this word (it seems to have been written by Odoevtseva), which I knew only by name then. I remember how, right in the “high attic”, sitting in the dust among some old junk and piles of furniture that had become completely unusable, which really looked “like a series of skeletons”, I read “Captains”. "The ships sails rustle …"
By evening, I knew their par coeur and it seemed that I was getting ready to read from the stage, but then my father, just the next day who arrived from Moscow on Sunday, told me that Gumilyov had been shot under Lenin. Therefore, not only his poems are forbidden, but his very name is never mentioned in print.
It was from my father that at that time I knew almost everything about Lenin and Stalin. He knew about the mass executions and arrests and the “red terror", he knew, most importantly, that it was not Stalin who was to blame for everything, "distorting the Leninist norms of party life", but that these norms themselves were terrible. He also knew that today, at the end of the 1960s, although they were not being shot, they were being planted. He knew about the Mordovian camps and so on.
I already knew all this then and now I am grateful to my father for this endlessly. It was he who was madly afraid that with my choleric temperament I would quickly find myself somewhere in Mordovia, nevertheless, not trying to make me “Soviet,” he told me only the truth and, moreover, all the truth that he knew. But for some reason we never talked about Gumilyov with him, although he loved poetry, and above all, poets of the beginning of the century.
My father’s real passion was the bike. We left with him for thirty kilometers, and during these trips, without trying to develop any particular speed, we talked for hours. De omni re scibili – "about everything that is given to us to know." So spoke Picot della Mirandola. What we did not talk about during these walks! And now, when we are traveling to places where we were with him then, precisely in connection with specific landscapes and even in connection with road bends, the details of our conversations, sometimes the tiniest, suddenly come to mind.
So, being on the Yegoryevsk highway near the house, which, of course, has nothing to do with the story told by my father, I always remember how he talked about the commander of the regiment stationed in Nakhabin. My father lived there in the summer, when he was about fifteen. I do not just remember: I see how everything was, although this happened in a completely different village and long before my birth. And only the tenacious memory of a teenager for some reason forever connected this story with a pretty house near the Donino station.
Returning home, the commander seems to be a handsome man, for everyone in the village loved him, drank tea with his wife and mother-in-law on the terrace, when an unfamiliar car drove up to his gate. All this was seen with their own eyes by boys playing on the street. Having decided that some bandits or simply “enemies of the working people” attacked him, they tried to defend the commander with their cry, but the “bandits” instantly pushed him into their car …
Lilacs are still blooming, and I continue to disassemble old disheveled magazines and books, which sometimes crumble right from the hands of disrepair. There are many of them in our barn, in the attic of our neighbors and in the chest of Ekaterina Filippovna, the widow of my mother’s godfather – the famous aerodynamic scientist, a man who has remained non-partisan all his life and has not hid from anyone that he believes in God. In the 1930s, he did not sign any letters in support of executions of the “enemies of the people” and went to the Church of the Intercession on Lyshchikova Hill. It was here that, at his request, the priest married my parents. Peter and Olga.
Among these books I have found the Gospel. The small official Gospel, of course, is in Slavic. I can not say that before that I was an unbeliever. No, I always loved church holidays, especially Easter, which I waited every year with great impatience, I prepared for it as best I could. He liked to visit the church, put candles and submit little notes to the mass, not always, but he prayed, and at times in the Resurrection Church in Sokolniki idle for an hour on my knees in front of the Iveron icon, sometimes at home I read the akathist to St. Nicholas, who was considered the patron saint of our family. But the Gospel was hardly revealed, and if I read it sometimes, it was only in Russian. Now everything has suddenly changed. Life itself has changed. It turned out that I simply can’t live without this book, or rather, without this Man. Then I did not think about who it is – “one of the prophets”, the Son of God or a simple rabbi from Nazareth. I just wanted to never part with Jesus – that's all. He mounted his bicycle, went off somewhere to the forest, and read the Gospel there for hours. I read, memorized both individual verses and entire pages, now and then returning to what was read before. And so every day. First to himself, now silently moving his lips, then out loud and even singing. Then a friend of mine, or rather, a colleague, a well-known historian and author of a book about ancient Pannonia, told me that she also read the Gospel out loud at home, locking herself in the bathroom for this.
Already faded lilac. Her giant and fragrant bouquet turned into an ordinary green bush, but the night sky was filled with August stars. And the birds … The very birds that “soar under the hay of the branches of the great trees growing out of the grain of Horushichnago” (see Mk 4: 30–32), fell silent, taking care of the chicks.
And I continued to follow Jesus and His disciples along the stony roads of Galilee. Sometimes the Slavic language was beyond my power, but then the Church Slavonic dictionary of Grigory Dyachenko helped me out, which I discovered I don’t remember exactly where, it seems, in the chest of Ekaterina Filippovna. Grandma's books on Slavic antiquities helped as well.
“All of you, dear land, in a slavish form the King of Heaven came forth …” – says Tyutchev. However, I understand these words not only in the sense that the poet understood them, but also in my own way, very personally. Reading the Gospel in a forest that I knew well from childhood, I somehow connected in my heart (my memory is so arranged) some places of this forest with those pages of the Gospel that I read in these places. He, indeed, proceeded this land, including when I read here about how the idea of Jesus on the Sabbath through the seed was; and his disciples are a little boisterous, and the nachasha to take away the classes and the robe (Matthew 12: 1).
That’s why in the winter, having come to ski, for a few days to visit my friends, the widow of the forester and his children, who, of course, lived outside the city all year, I immediately found places in the winter forest where He certainly was . His place. Therefore, skiing has become some kind of strange encounters with rabbis. When I returned home one day, tired of running fast and full of joy from being there, it was there, in my Galilee, where I first met my Jesus, I entered the kitchen. At the table, together with some man who seemed to me something like an ancient Assyrian, was the eldest son of my mistress.
“Alik is in a hurry,” he said, “so we decided to eat in a hurry.” Alik is my old friend. He lived here when we were boys. ” And after a pause: “And it will probably be interesting for you to talk to each other. About your gospel. ““ Priest Alexander Men, ”said the Assyrian, standing up and holding out his hand to me. He really was in a hurry, but on that day I managed to find out that you can follow Jesus not only alone, but together, because it was the word “together” that the first Christians called their community.
From the book of priest George Chistyakov
“In search of Eternal hail. About meeting with Christ "M .: Nikea, 2019).
For the first time publ .: Russian thought. 1999. No. 4274 (June 17–23). S. 12-13.
Priest George Chistyakov (1953–2007) – candidate of historical sciences, theologian. He graduated from the Faculty of History of Moscow State University. He knew Latin, ancient Greek, French, Italian and English. He lectured on the Bible and the history of Christianity at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, at the Russian State Humanitarian University, at Moscow State University, and also abroad (at universities in Ireland, Italy, Germany, France, the USA). Author of more than 200 scientific and journalistic articles, translations of Plutarch, Polemon, Machiavelli from ancient Greek and Italian. He was ordained to the rank of deacon on December 7, 1992, in the priesthood – on November 25, 1993. He served in the Church of the Holy Unmercenary and Miracle Workers Cosmas and Damian in Shubin (Moscow), was the rector of the Church of the Intercession of the Virgin at the Russian Children's Clinical Hospital.
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