Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Leo Tolstoy and the Parables (part 3)

In Memory of Betty Gowler
(December 27, 1931 - January 12, 2016)
For as long as I remember, I loved her laugh . . . and making her laugh
(Thanks to Nancy Gowler Johnson for a copy of this photo)


The next day Martin keeps looking out his window, because he wonders whether Jesus might visit him. Once when he looks out the window he sees Stepanitch, a retired soldier from the Czar’s army who was now so poor that he did odd jobs in the neighborhood just to make ends meet. Stepanitch was shoveling snow but had paused to rest, so Martin invites him inside to warm up and have a cup of tea. As they talk, Martin shares with Stepanitch what the voice the night before had told him about Jesus coming to visit Martin, as well as many stories about Jesus. The conversation ends this way:
Stepanitch forgot his tea. He was a very old man, easily moved to tears, and as he sat and listened the tears ran down his cheeks.
 “Come, drink some more,” said Martin. But Stepanitch crossed himself, thanked him, and moved away his tumbler, and rose. 
“Thank you, Martin Avdeitch,” he said, “you have given me food and comfort both for soul and body.” 
“You’re very welcome. Come again another time. I am glad to have a guest,” said Martin (90).
Martin returned to work but kept looking out his window in anticipation. Soon he saw a peasant woman, dressed in tattered summer garments, who carried a baby in her arms. Martin asked her to come inside to warm up. As he fixed the woman some lunch, the woman told him that she had pawned her winter shawl to buy food. Martin gives her an old cloak to keep her and the baby warm, and then:
[Martin] told the woman his dream, and how he had heard the Lord’s voice promising to visit him that day. 
“Who knows? All things are possible,” said the woman. And she got up and threw the cloak over her shoulders, wrapping it round herself and round the baby. Then she bowed, and thanked Martin once more. 
“Take this for Christ’s sake,” said Martin, and he gave her six-pence to get her shawl out of pawn. The woman crossed herself, and Martin did the same, and then he saw her out (92).

Martin’s words “for Christ’s sake” foreshadow how the story will end.

The next post will conclude the story, a story that also reminds me of the kind, faithful, and generous nature of my mother.

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