“I was cleaning the dome, when suddenly the board began to slip out from under my feet.” A future priest almost died right in the church.
For Christians, Pascha is the day of the Resurrection of Christ. In case someone does not know, the word "passover" in Hebrew means "deliverance." In this sense, Easter comes to every person in God's time.
Today, I will not be sharing any personal stories about my spiritual rebirth, deliverance from unnecessary, superficial and absurd things or rejection of particular sins. I will tell you about the changes in my perception of the world, the people around me and God Himself. These changes occurred thanks to the Easter holiday and took place during the Easter preparations back in 1999.
I was then a novice, a guard, a stoker and a part-time altar boy at the Trinity Church in Krasnoyarsk (the one at the cemetery on the mountain). It was in the last days of Lent, just before the Holy Week. Easter was only a few days away. Everything in the church was being prepared for the Feast. Work was in full swing. We were cleaning the walls, church utensils and candlesticks.
When I was a schoolboy, my friend and I used to spend much time on the rocks of the famous Stolby reserve. This rocky place near the Laletina River means a lot to every Krasnoyarsk dweller. It was there that I learned the basics of rock climbing. Although I did not become a merited climber, (like many natives) this hobby gave me a lot. I became less afraid of heights, and besides, rock climbing taught me basic accuracy and regularity, since climbing a smooth rock without belaying implies deliberation. Today, I understand that one should not "put the Lord your God to the test", but I was still young then...
Relying on my mountaineering background, I volunteered to climb the scaffolding and clean the church dome from the lampblack. There were two or three of us. We set up scaffolding, raised water in buckets, armed ourselves with brushes, rags and detergents, said a prayer and started to work.
My part of the dome was not far from a mural depicting the Resurrection of Christ. I looked down and despite my climbing habit, I felt that my arms and legs were getting weak. I remember thinking that it would be absurd to crash down in the church. Looking at the image of the Savior, I had an audacious thought that God may not be that omnipotent, if He needed my help to clean His image on the wall. I cannot say that I was an unbeliever then, but my doubts were through the roof. If you ask me, my development as a Christian was not easy. The Lord constantly humbled me so that I would not be exalted, but my Soviet past was still making me feel too big for my boots even before God Himself.
Standing on the scaffolding and doing my job, I heard my fellow workers discussing the need to climb down and rearrange the scaffolding, because there was still a place on the dome that we could not reach. I told them not to worry and that "I will take care of everything myself". I was so proud of myself that I completely forgot about any caution.
I rearranged the board on the scaffolding, resting it against the wall. Having checked it for stability, I walked along it. At some point, I felt that the board was sliding off the wall and out from under my feet. I was fifteen or twenty meters above the concrete floor. My whole life flashed before my eyes, like a first grader at noon recess. I yelled out something, but I do not remember what it was. For some reason, I said to myself nothing other than “Christ is risen!” I do not know whether it was fear, or the excess of adrenaline, but I heard someone's answer, "Truly He is risen!" Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a piece of the ordinary clothesline, which we were using to lift the water. I grabbed it with my hand, realizing that it would not hold me.
From that moment, it was like in slow motion. I yelled, I prayed to myself, I grabbed that thin thread and suddenly I felt that it was actually quite firm. It felt as if someone grabbed me under the armpits. In an instant, I found myself in a safe place, firmly clinging to the rack of scaffolding.
After I climbed down, I fell down on my knees. I kissed the floor of the church, and said silently, “Lord, I understand now. Forgive me.” This is how my personal deliverance took place shortly before Easter. Apart from being saved from bodily death, I was rescued from the desire to show off before people and especially before God.
Archpriest Dmitry KHARTSYZ
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