In sufferings and trails, times of weakness, the tendency in man is to find shelter in self-pity, and to close himself off from others. This foolish blindness allows one to neglect and forget about his neighbor's sufferings, while wallowing in his own conceit and self-worship. This leads to insensitivity and complete estrangement from God. This characteristic is easily recognized in the average rich, cold-hearted, capitalist stereotype, but how easy is it to find it within one's self? It's there, and must be slowly painfully rooted out if we are ever to rise above the wastes of the self-destructing society in which we live. The following article, written by a Serbian monk of recent times, helps in revealing this by giving a view of mankind through the eyes of a deer. Although in the "concrete jungle" that we are forced to live in, most do not have such encounters with nature, but the neglect and cruel coldness is still there, within, if you look. It is very easy to relate with the view given because we live in the same cold world, the true value is to be found in finding and weeding out the "cold world" hidden within us: dying to the world.
The following article was written by a monk who suffered much at the hands of violent atheists. All his sufferings are expressed, and the common sufferings of all, through the view point of a deer. When the first-created man and woman were cast out of Paradise and perfection, after their disobedience to God, they became mortal and subject to death. This expulsion from Paradise however, affected all creation, not just mankind. All creation became a lost paradise because of man's decision to disobey God of his own free will. All creation became subject to suffering and death because of man's original sin. Which in turn brings us to our day and age where man desires to destroy God. But this is an impossible task, for God is love--who can destroy love?
But how?--I do not know. I see, but I do not understand how. I live, but I do not apprehend what life is. I love, but I do not comprehend what love is. I suffer but in no way do I understand how suffering sprouts, grows, and ripens within me. Live, and love, and suffering--all this is deeper and more boundless than meyknowledge and understanding and comprehension. Everything that is incomprehensible and extraordinary stares at me out of every creature, therefore I am frightened.
Along with sorrow, someone poured something into me that He made immortal and eternal--something that is greater than sensation and stronger than thought, something that is as lasting as immortality and as huge as eternity. It is an instinct for love. In it there is something All-Powerful and irrestible. Do not insult the love in me. For you are insulting my only immortality and my only eternity. For what is of value, except that which is immortal and eternal? And I am immortal and eternal only through love.
My love has made its way through a multitude of deaths to you, O my sweet immortality! Therefore sorrow is my constant companion. Each cruelty is an entire death for me. Most of all in this world I have been surviving in the cruelties of one being called--Man. Sometimes he is the death of all my joys. O my eyes, look through him and above him to the One Who is All-Good and All-Gentle! Goodness and gentleness, this is life for me, this is immortality, this is eternity. Without goodness and gentleness, life is hell. When I keep in mind the goodness and gentleness of the All-Gentle One, I am completely in Paradise. If human cruelty closes in on me, hell closes in on me with all its terrors! Therefore, I am frightened of man, every man, unless he is good and gentle.
I am beside a stream whose banks are adorned with blue flowers. And the stream is from my tears. Men wound me in the heart, instead of blood, tears flow. O Gentle Heavens, to You I tell my secret. Therefore I weep for all the sorrowful, and the innocent, all the humiliated, all the insulted, all the hungry, all the homeless, all the distressed, all the tormented, all the saddened. My thoughts soon choke up with sorrow and turn into feelings, and the feelings pour out in tears. Yes, my feelings are boundless and my tears are countless. And almost every feeling in me grieves and weeps, because as soon as it turns from me to the world around me, it encounters some human cruelty. Oh, is there any being more cruel and brutal than man?...
Why was I cast into this world among men?... Oh, once--long, long ago--when I, in my dense and boundless forests, did not know man, the world was joy and paradise for me. But he stepped into my paradise. He--cruel, brutal and arrogant man. He trampled my flowers, chopped down my woods, and darkened the sky. And this he transformed my paradise into hell... Oh, I do not hate him for this reason, but I rather feel sorry for him. I feel sorry for him because he has no feeling for Paradise.
I have heard that demons exist. It is really possible that they are worse than men? The birches told us: "We saw Satan falling from heaven to earth, falling among men and--remaining." He, the one who fell away from heaven, has declared: "It is very pleasant for me among men, and I have a paradise of my own--men..." I have been listening, the blue sky has been whispering to the black earth this eternal truth: On the day of judgment men will have to give an answer for all the torments, for all the sufferings, for all the troubles, for all the deaths of all earthly beings and creatures. All the animals shall rise up and charge the human race with all the pains, with all the injuries, with all the evils, with all the deaths that it has caused them in its arrogant love of sin. Oh, have mercy on me, All-Good and All-Gentle One. Oh, save me from men, from cruel and evil men. In this way you will transform my world into Paradise and my sorrow into joy...
More than all that I love, I love freedom. It consists of goodness, gentleness, and love. And evil, cruelty, and hatred--this is slavery of the worst sort. By being a slave to them, one is a slave to death. And is there any slavery more fearful than death? Men--these fabricators and makers of evil, cruelty, and hatred, led me away into such slavery. Man invented and made sin, death, and hell. And this is worse than the worst thing, more terrifying than the most terrifying things in all my worlds. With intelligence but without goodness and gentleness, man is a ready-made devil.
I am a deer. I am the sense of sorrow in the universe. Every being drops dark drop after dark drop into my heart as soon as I approach him. And the dark dew of sorrow, like a fine tiny stream, flows through my veins. And there, in my heart, the dark dew of sorrow is refined into a pale bluish dew. Some magnetic power of sorrow runs through my being. Everything that is sorrowful in the world, that power irresistibly draws and stores in my heart. Therefore, I am more sorrowful than all creatures. And I have tears for everyone's pain...
Do not laugh at me, you who are grinning! I am astonished by the knowledge that in this sorrowful world there are beings who are laughing. Oh what a cursed and thrice accursed gift... To laugh in a world where sorrow seethes, pain boils, and death rages! What a damnable gift!... On account of sorrow I never laugh. How could I laugh, when you who are grinning are so crude and cruel, when you are so evil and ugly? And you are ugly on account of evil. For only evil makes the beauty of earthly and heavenly creatures ugly.
I recall, I remember: this earth was once a paradise. But now?... Darkness has completely covered my eyes. Every which way I turn there lies a thick gloom. My thoughts are dripping with tears. And memories seethe with sorrows. Everything in me burns with sorrow, but by no means will it burn out. And I alone am the wretched eternal sacrifice--the holocaust offered on the universe's altar of sorrow. And the universe's altar of sorrow is the earth, that grey and somber, pale, and darkish planet.
My heart is an inaccessible island in a boundless ocean of sorrow. Is every heart an inaccessible island? Say that you have a heart! Do you know what completely surrounds your hearts? Mine. Therefore my eyes are blurred by tears and my heart undermined by sighs. The pupils of my eyes are in pain, because many midnights have spent the night in them. Last night the sun set in me eye, and the morning did not give birth to it. It married the darkness of my sorrow. Something fearful and terrifying has begun to move through my being. It frightens me, everything around me and above me. O, would that I could flee from the fear of this world. But does any world without fear exist? I call out to my soul, frightened and chased away by the fears of this world, to return to me, but more and more heedlessly it flees from me, leaving me sad and dejected... I am a deer.
I have listened to the angels of Heaven, when they wash their wings in my tears. In ancient times the white deer told me that He, the All-meek and All-merciful One passed over the earth and transformed the earth back to Paradise. Wherever He stood, Paradise appeared. Out of Him unto all beings and all creation there would flow boundless goodness and love, gentleness, mercy, meekness, and wisdom. He walked over all the earth and brought Heaven down to earth. They called Him Jesus. We saw in Him that man can be wondrous and exceedingly beautiful only when he is sinless. He shared in our sorrow and wept with us. He was with us and against those human creations: sin, evil, and death. He loved all creatures gently and compassionately; He embraced them with a divine longing; and He defended them from human sin, human evil, and human death. He was, and has forever remained--our God, the God of the sorrowful and saddened creatures, from the smallest to the greatest. He--our Lord and God! He--our sweet consolation in this bitter world which is passing and our eternal joy in that immortal world which is coming...