Cana of Galilee

It was very late, according to the monastery ideas, when Alyosha returned to the hermitage; the door- keeper let him in by a special entrance. It had struck nine o’clock—the hour of rest and repose after a day of such agitation for all. Alyosha timidly opened the door and went into the elder’s cell where his coffin was now standing. There was no one in the cell but Father Païssy, reading the Gospel in solitude over the coffin, and the young novice Porfiry, who, exhausted by the previous night’s conversation and the disturbing incidents of the day, was sleeping the deep sound sleep of youth on the floor of the other room. Though Father Païssy heard Alyosha come in, he did not even look in his direction. Alyosha turned to the right from the door to the corner, fell on his knees and began to pray.

His soul was overflowing but with mingled feelings; no single sensation stood out distinctly, on the contrary, one drove out another in a slow, continual rotation. But there was a sweetness in his heart and, strange to say, Alyosha was not surprised at it. Again he saw that coffin before him, the hidden dead figure so precious to him, but the weeping and poignant grief of the morning was no longer aching in his soul. As soon as he came in, he fell down before the coffin as before a holy shrine, but joy, joy was glowing in his mind and in his heart. The one window of the cell was open, the air was fresh and cool. “So the smell must have become stronger, if they opened the window,” thought Alyosha. But even this thought of the smell of corruption, which had seemed to him so awful and humiliating a few hours before, no longer made him feel miserable or indignant. He began quietly praying, but he soon felt that he was praying almost mechanically. Fragments of thought floated through his soul, flashed like stars and went out again at once, to be succeeded by others. But yet there was reigning in his soul a sense of the wholeness of things—something steadfast and comforting—and he was aware of it himself. Sometimes he began praying ardently, he longed to pour out his thankfulness and love.…

But when he had begun to pray, he passed suddenly to something else, and sank into thought, forgetting both the prayer and what had interrupted it. He began listening to what Father Païssy was reading, but worn out with exhaustion he gradually began to doze.

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee;” read Father Païssy. “And the mother of Jesus was there; And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.”

“Marriage? What’s that. … A marriage!” floated whirling through Alyosha’s mind. “There is happiness for her, too … She has gone to the feast. … No, she has not taken the knife. … That was only a tragic phrase. … Well … tragic phrases should be forgiven, they must be. Tragic phrases comfort the heart … Without them, sorrow would be too heavy for men to bear. Rakitin has gone off to the back-alley. As long as Rakitin broods over his wrongs, he will always go off to the back-alley. … But the high road. … The road is wide and straight and bright as crystal, and the sun is the end of it. … Ah! … What’s being read?” …

And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him; ‘They have no wine’ ” … Alyosha heard.

“Ah, yes, I was missing that, and I didn’t want to miss it, I love that passage: it’s Cana of Galilee, the first miracle. … Ah, that miracle! Ah, that sweet miracle! It was not men’s grief, but their joy Christ visited, He worked His first miracle to help men’s gladness. … ‘He who loves men loves their gladness, too’ … He was always repeating that, it was one of his leading ideas. … ‘There’s no living without joy,’ Mitya says. … Yes, Mitya. … ‘Everything that is true and good is always full of forgiveness,’ he used to say that, too” …

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what has it to do with thee or me?” Mine hour is not yet come.

His mother saith unto the servants: Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it” …

“Do it. … Gladness, the gladness of some poor, very poor, people. … Of course they were poor, since they hadn’t wine enough even at a wedding. … The historians write that, in those days, the people living about the Lake of Genesareth were the poorest that can possibly be imagined … and another great heart, that other great being, His Mother, knew that He had come not only to make His great terrible sacrifice. She knew that His heart was open even to the simple, artless merry-making of some obscure and unlearned people, who had warmly bidden Him to their poor wedding. ‘Mine hour is not yet come,’ He said, with

  By PanEris using Melati.

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