The end of year saw me going back to one of Tolstoy’s classic novels – Anna Karenina. How could I ever have understood this as an undergraduate? Anyway, with a few more of life’s seasons having passed over me, I was intrigued and encouraged by reading the account of Levin’s dawning faith.
Unlike the glorious heroine who finally, almost by accident, fulfills her suicidal wish – the inevitable outcome of her supreme passion for life, he turns away from strife and suffering, surprised by life, surprised by joy.
Here are a few glorious snippets to inspire your own journey into 2014. Happy New Year! Be surprised!
“He felt something new in his soul and took a delight in probing it, not yet knowing what this new something was. ‘Not to live for one’s own needs, but for God!’…Fiodr declares that it is wrong to live for one’s belly; we must live for truth, for God, and a hint is enough to make me understand what he means!…
And I was surprised that in spite of the utmost efforts of my reason in that direction I could not discover the meaning of life, the meaning of my own impulses and yearnings. But the meaning of my impulses is so clear that they form the very foundation of my existence, and I marveled and rejoiced when the peasant put it into words for me: to live for God, for my soul. I have discovered nothing. I have simply opened my eyes to what I knew. I have come to the recognition of that Power that not only in the past gave me life but now too gives me life. I have been set free from fallacy, I have found the Master…he had been living rightly, but thinking wrongly…The miracle that made it possible for the world with its millions of individual human beings, sages and simpletons, children and old men, everyone, peasants,…beggars and kings, to comprehend with certainty one and the same truth and live that life of the spirit, the only life that is worth living and which alone we prize….’Can this be faith?’ he wondered, afraid to believe in his happiness. ‘My God, I thank Thee!’ he breathed, gulping down the sobs that rose within him and with both hands brushing away the tears that filled his eyes.”
“I shall go on in the same way, losing my temper with Ivan the coachman, falling into angry discussions, expressing my opinions tactlessly; there will be still the same wall between the holy of holies of my soul and other people, even my wife; I shall still go on scolding her for my own fright and being remorseful for it; I shall still be as unable to understand with my reason why I pray, and I shall still go on praying; but my life now, my whole life apart from anything that can happen to me, every minute of it is no more meaningless, as it was before, but it has the positive meaning of goodness, which I have the power to put into it.”
Last Paragraphs from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina