I’ve recently been in a church – for the first time in my life not as a tourist.
It was build around 900 years ago, and looks really like this from outside. At first, I was confused, which one of the many doors to use and if I am, as a non-christ, supposed to enter the church at all. There was no mass. All doors seemed to be closed, so I’ve tried to open just any door. It opened surprisingly easy, so I’ve entered.
As it turned to be a protestant church, it was pretty simple inside. Just benches, a crucifix and a candle. And silence, unbelievable and deep silence. There was nobody inside I could see. I sat onto a bench in the 3-rd line, and didn’t know what to do next.
My grand-grandmother was a daughter of a russian orthodox priest, and my grandmother was a christ, and my mother is too, and even my little sister has been baptized. Only me is an exception, I don’t know why. My grandmother has baptized me herself, “inofficially”, at home, and she was always very concerned about it. I suppose, they didn’t want to disturb my potentially bright atheistic-communistic future in the USSR.
Then later, in the basic school, when I was probably 8 or 9 years old, we had just a normal lesson, writing or math, something like this. Suddenly, the door opened and one of the school directors came in. She asked, “Does anybody know what God is?”. Because she did that with her strong Ukrainian accent, and we were all children from the deepest Russian province, nobody could understand her. So she took a chalk and wrote БОГ on the blackboard. One or two pupils raised their hands.
My father, a Jew, has always told me, “Average performance leads to average grades, but you’re a Jew, and in this country, you have to have an excellent performance to achieve average grades”. I happened to know what a God is (I could even name a few), so I’ve raised my hand too.
She went to each of us, silently and slowly, and distributed an empty piece of paper. Then, she returned to the blackboard, and commanded: “Write down everything you know about God!”.
Meanwhile, my class teacher walked through the class room, as if she wanted to ensure order and silence, even though there was a silence like on a cemetery. When passing me, she has bent down and whispered: “Is there God?”, looking concerned on to me, as if I had dilusions. I knew the official answer I supposed to give on this question, so I’ve answered, “There is no God!”. – “So what are you going to write?”, HINTED she, looking into my eyes to confirm my understanding; and then she walked away.
Not that she was a fanatical atheist, but she was responsible for 100% atheistic coverage in the class.
So I took my pencil and wrote with my childish handwriting these two words: Бога нет. “There is no God”.
I still remember every little detail. I will never forget it, and I will never forgive myself for doing this.
Thus, when I was sitting on a bench in the 3-rd line, in an empty church, for the first time in my life, I didn’t really know what to do. I’ve only knew that I didn’t want to appear annoying or selfish to Him.
So I’ve just started thinking about things concerning me, carefully avoiding to ask for something. Suddently, a strange idea has come into my mind. It was something like “Kid, consider doing this and that. Wouldn’t it be sooo beautiful?“.
It was a fully unexpected point of view. I mean, I’ve already had this solution as a possible option, but I haven’t thought about its beautifulness.
But it IS beatiful.
And therefore, it IS the right thing to do.
And even though it is also unbelievable painful… I’m doing it, yes, I’m doing it.