Nun Mitrodora (Sasina)
Meeting with God is always very personal, mysterious, unperceivable. Sisters of our Convent share their stories of when and how they heard the Lord and responded to His call.
Nun Mitrodora (Sasina): Outsiders usually think that some sort of a tragedy must happen to make one come to God or enter a monastery. But God has different ways to call us unto Him. I was one of those who had everything. I did well at my studies. I had a promising career. I had ambitions, I could do a lot. I had friends. That was why nobody in my circle could understand my decision to go elsewhere leaving everything behind.
I was raised in a religious family: both my grandmothers were believers. They used to take me to the Communion when I was a child. Nevertheless, I remained an atheist until the age of 19. It is difficult to say at what point God touched my soul.
It all happened quietly and gradually.
I began to realise that there existed a different life. I used to go out with friends. Parties, discos and alike seemed to be fun. But my soul remained empty. And it felt completely different every time I occasionally walked into a church, be it for 20 minutes only. There I would feel life and fullness inside of me though it was hard for me to remain standing that long and I did not understand much about the service...
The final inner transformation and meeting with God took place after I had joined the Sisterhood and had started my obedience at a hospital.
There I once met a patient, an elderly lonely lady. I was told that she used to be a well-known doctor. She had helped a lot of people, many had sought her advice. Now nobody, not even her children, would come to see her at the hospital. Her only company was the hospital staff who were taking care of her. I was standing beside her bed and wondering, ‘Is that what she has lived for? Having achieved that much, she is now all alone. She has nothing left but this bed. So what comes next?’
That was the point when I reconsidered my whole life. When there is God, everything starts to make sense.
I recall once visiting patients at the Scientific and Practical Center of Mental Health. On my way to the ward, I was rehearsing my ‘speech’ and thinking about what I would say to this or that patient. Disappointingly, when I arrived, they did not listen to me and turned away.
Another day, I happened to be very tired. I had to get up early the next morning. It was freezing cold outside. So I was reluctant to go to the Center. I prayed to all saints asking them to help me open the door to the ward and say at least something. And you know, everything was different at that time: the people came up to me, listened to me and asked questions... We prayed together. When I left the ward, I was feeling so alive. I know that it was not me but God acting through me.
I had a most significant experience before joining the Sisterhood. I told nobody about it then. Once on my way home from the church, I suddenly had a clear vision of my entire life ahead of me. On the one hand, I could have a life anyone would dream about: a family, a loved and loving husband, external well-being. But it would be without God. Or I could live differently. I did not know what that other life was going to be like. But it was sure to be with God. The Lord was asking me which life I would decide on. I felt I had to make up my mind right at that moment. But why not later, the next day for example? There was a great struggle going on inside of me then...
I understood later why it was necessary for me to answer the Lord at that particular moment: without that dialogue with God, but with things going on, as usual, I would have chosen the first way.
In the end, I realised that living a happy human life but without God would not make me happy and I would be suffering. Apparently, my family would be suffering, too. So I said, “Lord, I choose You”.
Three years later, I came to the Convent. That inner dialogue with God, the fact that the Lord had revealed two possible options for me to choose from, and that He was patiently waiting for my decision helped me a lot. Indeed, God hears everyone. God leaves it to us to choose and always waits for our decision. That was a very bright and memorable moment: the moment of the soul meeting with God.
Obviously, my life before entering the Convent had been quite eventful. But when I joined the Convent with its few external changes, I began to feel the fullness which I had never experienced elsewhere. And I never will. Why would one choose to become an on-ward volunteer instead of staying comfortably at home? Why would one leave everything behind? It is because one sees a different life and starts living it. This fullness fills you compensating for the rest.
To be continued…
How does Orthodoxy view conflicts in general? What about interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts in particular? How does Orthodoxy view violence in all its forms? What is the Orthodox view on wars and warfare? Fr Andrey Lemeshonok talks about…