The world is often not quite what it seems. Likewise, we ourselves, are often wrapped up in many of our own passions, and our own delusions.
As we read the pages that detailed how Fr Tikhon started his monastic life, we learned that he, like many in the Soviet regime then, were aware that spirituality had to be found outside the propaganda. And Fr Tikhon and his brethren realized just how hard it was to find God through the many distractions, noises and delusions of the world. It was hard for them to find Bibles, Churches, or to understand the meaning of the Divine Liturgy in Church. They even dabbled with various pagan practices and beliefs before they finally found their rightful faith in God. And God sent many signs to the young man who eventually became Fr Tikhon, including his godmother who told him that God would be very close to him. He would not understand then, but eventually, as his life unraveled, God’s Will took shape.
Like Fr Tikhon, I had always been deeply interested in religion and spirituality.
I was a Buddhist as a young child. Unlike many, I was a curious child, and started to study the sutras on my own. Eventually, I was meditating and praying often for the hope of salvation of others. Just before I entered the army, the Tibetan lineage holders told my parents that I should enter their monastery as a monk. My parents refused.
That was God’s Will in action. His hint to me perhaps, was that I was to have something to do with religion. At that time, Christianity was farthest from my mind because the pastors could not answer many questions and resorted to simply shut out my queries. But God’s Will was waiting. And God is infinitely patient. His plan unraveled a full 24 years later.
In 2004, I faced a legal situation which depressed me. I thought of migrating to Australia, when I obtained a residence permit. I was making plans, and then God’s Plan revealed itself.
Some Christian clergy somehow found me, and asked if I could help them with some Internet-related work pro-bono. I was known moderately as an Internet consultant. Since my business hit rock-bottom due to the bind I was in, I accepted their requests.
Through these fine gentlemen and servants of Christ, I found a face of Christianity that meant a great deal to me – real and human labors of love for the sake of others. I helped them in various humanitarian causes, as their remote assistants (serving as secretary general to a Catholic abbot in Germany at one time) for their field help to impoverished people in places such as Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Haiti, and so on. They made their mark in my eyes because of their faith and sincerity, despite their limited means. Through them, I slowly began to read up on Christianity.
Somehow, I began to slowly drop the burden of worry and depression, and found solace in reading and contemplating on Christ. And slowly, I even learned to forgive the wrongs inflicted on me, and found a peace within me. Although later on, I was exonerated from the situation and the wrongdoer was punished through the legal system, I no longer bore a grudge against him, but prayed for him. That was when I found God.
Through the studies, and the labors of these clergy (St James 1:22), I saw God in His Glory – not some blinding displays of glamor, but something that tucked at my heart and ached it. I was moved. Eventually I was asked to take up vocation. I know how much I fall short of what many could do, and what Christ would rightfully demand from me.
I would not have imagined a life with Christ, more than 40 years ago. I would have imagined some decades back, that I would become a monk. Little did I know, God did intend something similar, but one which centered on the path of reconciliation back to Him as His humble servant. Jeremiah 29:11 is so encouraging, that our Lord knows all plans for all of us, and these plans are to prosper us spiritually with hope and eternal life (also Ephesians 2:10). I can only say:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.