Personal Stories: They Are Finely Attuned to God and People

Our Publishing House published a book titled The Yonder Land in 2011. Its main characters are the residents of the Boarding Home No.3 for the mentally challenged, as well as the sisters and brothers of the Sisterhood of Saint Elisabeth, nuns of St. Elisabeth Convent, and doctors. There is a chapel in honour of St. Xenia of Petersburg in the Boarding Home. Today, just a couple of days after the patron saint's day of this chapel, we would like to share some excerpts from this wonderful book with you.

The society casts some people away as worthless. God finds them precious. They lack the privileges, the comfort, and the opportunities of this world. The Lord gathered them in the Boarding Home. This is where they spend their lives filled with suffering and pain, dreams and joys... Someone may view their lives as joyless, unbearable, and harsh. In fact, they are more real and more grounded in reality than the life of a regular person in this world where everything is based on self-deception and the desire to live for one's own sake.

Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok: They look at every person with immense shrewdness. We often treat other people like silhouettes roaming around. We get tired of them and try to hide from them as quickly as possible. When you come to the boarding home, the residents who stay here look at you and see through you because they are attentive, compassionate, and loving.

Lena, 30

Lena is benevolent and polite. She has a gorgeous voice. She dreams of her own home and a family.

What makes you happy?

I'm happy because God. We go to church, confess, and take communion. We love God. We pray for everybody.

What is beauty?

Beauty is Love. The beauty of heart is when a person loves another person, his neighbour. You see? It's when he treats him with an open and warm heart. When he shares something to make the other person happy. When he helps that person and shows his kindness. Gets him on the right track.

Gregory, a parishioner: I recall how I had to go to the boarding home to attend a Liturgy. The day before, I had sprained my ankle and had not slept for almost the entire night. I was too tired to get up that morning. My mood was so gloomy! My soul protested: “What do you need it for? Today, you really have the reason to stay at home.”

I made myself go to the boarding home. I thought, "I'll get to church today even if I have to crawl..." Interestingly enough, although my leg ached badly at first, the pain soothed down halfway to the boarding home.

When I was standing in the church, I was immersed in thinking about all my problems. I had problems at work and I was anxious for my mum, who had a weak heart. I confessed but my condition did not improve. On the contrary, I felt even more pain. I was almost crying. The Communion began. The patients queued for the Chalice. I was struck by the pure eyes of a man who had usually behaved with visible insanity. After the Communion, his eyes were so amazing! I recalled Christ for some reason. His eyes were so pure and clear, filled with quiet sadness and placidity. The guy came to me, took my hand, and said, "Don't worry. Everything will be alright. Just don't worry, please." For some reason, I believed him.

Another man came to me after having received the Sacrament. He hugged me and said, "Calm down! You can't do anything. Everything will be fine with you and your mum. Everything will be alright."

Since that moment, I cannot perceive anyone from the boarding home as an ill person.

An old friend of mine who had the habit of asking me for a sweet or a small coin took communion, too. He came to me and said, "Listen, are you going to take communion? Why are you waiting here for so long?"

When I took communion, my heart was filled with quiet joy. Everyone in the Church must have had that feeling of Fatherly love. My heart felt warm and blissful... and tranquil, amazingly unagitated. The only thing that you want to do in such a situation is simply to pray to God, "Lord forgive my doubts and lack of faith." When you are happy, it is the best time to ask the Lord to forgive you.

Sister Yulia: Why do people end up in the boarding home? It's a huge mystery of the salvation of the human soul. A person can be sick and miserable, crippled by physical defects, but his soul can be amazingly pure and beautiful nonetheless!

They are finely attuned to God and other people. They are unsophisticated, open-hearted, and kind. These people are not of this world.

Xenia, 38

Xenia is often aggressive and angry but when she is in a good mood, she agrees to share what she feels.

Have you been happy this week?

No, I haven't. I don't know if I have ever been happy. I have not been happy for a long time. I had seizures, and they injected some drug to calm me down. My eyes were swollen. Right now, I am getting back to my normal state after the injection. The last time I was happy was when I gave birth to my daughter at the age of 18. I was very beautiful. I won the first prize at Miss Yurmala-1991 Fashion Contest but I didn't sign the contract to work in France. I didn't fly to France because I had to look after my daughter. I ended up in a mental hospital. My relative called an ambulance on me.

What do people live for? What do you live for?

We live in order to live and help each other.

Fragments from The Yonder Land, 
published in St. Elisabeth Convent in 2011.

February 6, 2018