“Don’t cry, Mother,” he answered. “Life is paradise, and we are all in paradise, but we refuse to see it. If we would, we should have heaven on earth the next day.”
Everyone wondered at his words, he spoke so strangely. We were all touched and wept.
Friends came to see us . “Dear ones,” he would say to them, “what have I done that you should love anyone like me, and how was it I did not know, I did not appreciate it before?”
I this mood he would get up every day, more an more sweet and joyous and full of love. When the doctor, an old German called Eisenschmidt, came he would ask, joking: “Well, Doctor, have I another day in this world?”
“You’ll live many days yet,” the doctor would answer. “And months and years too.”
“Months and years!” my brother would exclaim. “One day is enough for a man to know all happiness. My dear ones, why do we quarrel, try to outshine each other and keep grudges against each other? Let’s go straight into the garden, walk and play there, love, appreciate each other and glorify life.”
“Your son cannot last long,” the doctor told my mother, as she accompanied him to the door. “The disease is affecting his brain.”
The windows of my brother’s room looked out into the garden. Our garden was a shady one, old trees in it which were coming into bud. The first birds of spring were chirping and singing in the branches. And looking at them and admiring them, my brother began suddenly begging their forgiveness too. “Birds of heaven, happy birds, forgive me, for I have also sinned against you.” None of us could understand these words at the time, but he shed tears of joy. “Yes,” he said, “there was such always such a glory of God about me: birds, trees, meadows, sky, only I lived in shame and dishonoured it all and did not notice the beauty and glory.”
“You take too many sins on yourself,” Mother used to say, weeping.
“Mother, darling, it’s for joy, not for grief I am crying. Though I can’t explain it to you, I like to humble myself, for I don’t know how to love enough. If I have sinned against everyone, yet all forgive me, too, and that’s heaven. Am I not in heaven now?”
–Notes of the life of the deceased priest and monk, the Elder Zossima