What is our life? Almost the same thing as the life of a leaf on a tree! After many years of absence, I visited that beautiful village where I was born.
Saint Ignatius (Brianchaninov)
It has belonged to my family for a long, long time. In that village is a majestic cemetery, surrounded by age-old trees. Under the luxurious branches of those trees lie the bodies of those who planted them. I came to that cemetery. The sorrowful, plaintive songs, the comforting hymns of the holy panikhida began. The wind played with the tips of the trees; their leaves rustled, and that rustle mingled with the voices of the singing clergy.
I heard the names of the departed - those who are still alive to my heart. Their names were read in order - my mother, my brothers and sisters, my grandfathers and great grandfathers. What solitude is in this cemetery! What a miraculous, holy silence! How many remembrances! What a strange, long life! I contemplated the inspired, divine hymns of the service. At first I only felt sadness; later, it began to lessen slowly. By the end of the service, a quiet consolation replaced my deep sorrow - the prayers of the Church dissolved the vivid remembrances of the departed with spiritual joy.
They announced a resurrection that awaits the departed! These prayers declared their life - they attracted blessedness to this life.
The graves of my ancestors are surrounded by age-old trees. Their wide branches cast a shadow over the grave sites. Under the shadow, my large family sleeps. Many generations lie here. O earth, earth! On your surface, generations of people replace each other, like leaves on a tree. They calmly grow green, they innocently rustle, brought into movement by the quiet breath of the spring wind. But autumn will soon come - they will become yellow, they will fall off the trees onto the graves, they will shrivel up on them. When spring returns, new leaves will beautify the branches, and they also will only last a short time, then will fade and disappear.
What is our life?
Almost the same thing as the life of a leaf on a tree!
May 20, 1844 Village of Pokrovskoe, Vologda Region
Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov
"The world lies in a state of spiritual deception and manifests an affinity for those in the same state. But it despises and rejects those who serve Truth…"