My Adventures After Death (Chapter 11)

"Julia Voznesenskaya . . . [writes] about our life after death, the knowledge of which is kept by the patristic experience and the Tradition of the Orthodox Church." — Olga Golosova

Previous chapters:

Chapter 11 

I was left alone on an island among the quicksand. I had no water, but sometimes at night there was a fine rain. I had my prosphora, my angelic bread: every day I broke off one crumb, trying not to damage the top portion with the image of the Mother of God.

There were only bare dry bushes around, with not a single living blade of grass beneath them. Gray spiders ran along the fine sand and lizards darted around. Seagulls screamed over the sea in rowdy voices, but they didn't fly over here. Loneliness. 

At first, I carefully searched the bushes on the edge of my patch, trying to find solid ground beyond the line, but soon I became convinced that it was covered with deadly sands on all sides.

Dried shreds of seaweed hung here and there on the bushes. It seems that during a storm the sea washes up here and floods the island. In that case, it will be possible to try to get out of here by swimming or by walking along the bottom, like Lop-eared and I did when we left the gray city.

At first I was desperate and piteously cried out to God:

"My Lord, Lord! Why did you leave me right now, when I remembered you? Why don't you want to help me?"

Then I calmed down and decided that my situation was far from the worst. I died a long time ago, and I have nothing to fear from death. Whether I like it or not, I have before me eternity in which I will exist. I could serve it in the ice of Lake Despair, or in a camp, in an eerie gray city on the other side of the sea, or in a dull town nearby. I could be forever where demons reign, where there is nowhere to hide from them.

In the camp, I already became a zombie, and now I do not seem to be in danger of losing my identity.

And I know absolutely nothing about the most terrible depths of hell, which are in the darkness!

And all of the quicksand . . . I could have gone all the way down into it, while remaining awake and unharmed. To stand for all eternity motionless, fettered on all sides, unable to move, unable to say a word, unable to open my eyes . . . And I'm still complaining!

As soon as I came to terms with my situation, I immediately had a lot of things to do and cares on my island. I watched the spiders and taught the lizards not to be afraid of me.

When I sat motionless, they basked on my legs, sitting in a row like jackdaws on a fence.

Having chosen a bald spot in the very middle of the bushes, I broke the branches and stuck them along the edge as a dense wall. I collected dry shreds of seaweed from the bushes and made a small pillow for myself. So I built myself another house . . .

It soon turned out that my every day was filled to capacity. In the morning, when the sun was just rising over the sea, I got up to face it and prayed, turning to the Lord, to the Mother of God, to my Guardian Angel, and to the only saint whom I knew by name — to my Grandfather, Father Eugene. I asked God for mercy for Lop-Eared, wherever he was.

Then I sat on the sand and thought. About what? About everything that happened to me in my entire life, starting from the moment that I first remember myself. I realized long ago that I lived my life stupidly and incorrectly — I couldn't help but understand that! But now I have time to go through my life step by step again, and more than once. The longer I did this, the less I liked it. I so disfigured it with sins that I could only marvel at God's mercy. Did I deserve to have the sky above my head, to hear from afar the cries of seagulls and the sound of the surf, to see nearby innocent and living creatures — lizards and spiders?

Amazing business! Starting from Freud, all psychologists taught us to avoid self-condemnation, so as not to earn complexes and mental breakdowns. But the more and more severely I judged myself and repented of my sins, the lighter, the calmer I became. Very often, having condemned myself to the fullest extent for some kind of offense, I suddenly began to rejoice at something! Maybe the sense of justice inherent in the old human rights activist moved me?

I also remembered everyone I loved on Earth and managed to love in Paradise. Before my earthly friends and family, I mentally repented of the negligence, of the wrongs, I asked for forgiveness for the sins committed together with my “accomplices”. I thanked my dear relatives in Paradise and mentally asked them to pray for me.

One a crumb a day, I quietly ate all my prosphora. Only the top portion remained, which I decided to keep at all costs: it served me as an icon of the Mother of God. If despondency attacked me, which, although rarely, did happen, I took it in my palm, looked at the barely visible figure of the Mother of God with the Child and prayed:

"Holy Mother of God, save us," and I repeated this prayer hundreds and thousands of times.

And the despondency passed.

I asked forgiveness from everyone whom I loved little or wrongly, whom I did not bring the good that I could bring, I recalled my unfulfilled obligations on Earth. And not only on Earth. My great-grandmother, the beautiful Olga, Helga in Varangian, asked me to find her beloved husband. True, if she knew how huge and varied Hell was, why did she ask me to find her husband? The man who does not have one eye, but the other is blue as the sky, two fingers missing on his left hand, his nose is broken, and his hair and beard are red. In a word, handsome.

Olaf Redbeard. I felt guilty, not that I didn’t find him, but that I promised to look for him and didn't.

Ah, great-grandmother, great-grandmother! You, without knowing it, helped me a lot all this time. If it were not for my meeting with you, I would not have been able to maintain hope for the mercy of God for so long. When I had already forgotten the Name of God, and lost all understanding of Him, what supported in me the strength to hope and resist non-existence? The hope you gave me. How could you wait and hope! Two thousand years, just think! And I have just begun my eternity . . .

The more I prayed, the easier it was for me to pray. And more and more often my prayers were thanksgiving. I thanked the Lord for saving Lop-eared and for the fact that even if I was destined to go into quicksand, my last words would be: "Thank God for everything that happened to me."

I thanked Him for the fact that after going through death, through hell, and Paradise, I learned about the world of spirits, learned that there is Satan, and there is God. I chose God, and I rejected Satan — I cursed and even burned his filthy image. Of course, this is not a victory over him. This is such a small sign of contempt that he might not even notice it . . . Not notice? Then why would he almost burn Lop-eared and me, if he doesn't care? With his pride, even such a small prick could be felt. He had to understand that I was not one of his slaves, and that was enough.

Thank God for that! Thank God for everything.

A miracle happened when I was not expecting it at all. It started raining one night, warm and light. And suddenly there was a breath of the scent of flowers. I thought that the wind carried it to me from somewhere far away. I lay on the wet sand and thought about the flowers of Paradise. I remembered the Crystal Valley and the flower that my great-grandmother Olga and I took as a gift to the Mother of God. The rain gathered strength and soon turned into a downpour, and the wonderful smell of flowers intensified. I sat down and put my hand under the stream of rain, then raised it to my face. Yes, it was that very scent — the fragrance of the love of the Mother of God for people.

Dawn came. The rain stopped. Everything around me was fragrant, and the thorny dry bushes were covered with green leaves and white flowers.

I got up. The sand underfoot became wet and dense. I realized that now I could walk on it, and I went out.

Carefully stepping outside my island and making sure that the sand was holding me, I walked along it beside the sea, keeping the direction away from the city.

I was not so surprised when I soon saw my Guardian Angel waiting for me on the shore — I was only delighted.

“Well, that's all, Anna,” he said. "Thank the Mother of God for the mercy shown to you. Did you understand that it was a miracle?" 

"Of course! After all, even the dead thorns were covered with flowers and leaves in one night." 

He took me in his arms, and I pressed my head to his shoulder. We took off into the sky.

"Would you like to have a goodbye look at the city?" my Guardian Angel asked.

"Yes, if you want." 

The angel flew towards the bay. There was no city below us: no villas on the hills, no parks, no colorful waterfront. Below us was a huge dump with mountains of garbage. Above, one could make out the rusty carcasses of cars, gleaming empty bottles, colorful plastic bags, broken crates and other urban junk. Among the mountains of rubbish wandered gray hunched figures of men and women, rummaging through the garbage, collecting things in dirty plastic bags. The water in the once azure bay was covered with oil stains, and even from above one could see empty bottles, plastic litter and various sewer rubbish on its surface. Seagulls darted over all this decay, screaming in disgusting feline voices.

"That's how I took it," I said to the Angel. "Not with my eyes, but in my gut. I always fancied some kind of deception in all this." 

"It has always been that way. After all, you know who the architect and builder of this city of forgetful pleasure-seekers is — the father of lies and the master of hoaxes. If the veil of illusion were ripped off, many earthly cities would not look better. Let's fly. There is nothing more to see!" And we flew away from the city.

Chapter 12 — Coming soon . . .

Source: Мои посмертные приключения (Russian)

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