Fr Tikhon, after spending a brief time at the Pskov Monastery as a novice, went back to the world. But unlike some who may find the world attractive and find a monastery punishing, the young man did not. Instead, he found the material world unattractive, including the films and books he used to love. He even managed to kick his smoking habit of many years, something not many people can easily do if they were to smoke.
The only place he found happiness was at Church. He found reading about the Holy Fathers moving and enlightening, with the prayer book given to him by Fr Tavrion. He found great comfort in reading about the amazing lives of St Isaac the Syrian, St John Climacus, Abba Dorotheus, St John Chrysostom, and saints closer to his time, such as St Ignatius Brianchaninov, St Theophan the Recluse and St Tikhon of Zadonsk. To the young man, these were hidden from him for so long from where he was, an oppressive regime that tried to snuff out the visibility of God’s Church.
And through the Mercy of God, the young man began to understand more and more the meaning of the Divine Liturgy and the Church Slavonic language, and loving those times he could worship in Church and partaking in communion.
In a nutshell, the young man was shedding the burdens and shackles of the world, and beginning the journey of his seeking God.
The world we live in is like a two-dimensional painting. It may be beautiful in some aspects, but, it is really just a flat, lifeless canvas with some ink on it.
The Kingdom of Heaven is markedly different. Rather than merely being three-dimensional with depth and volume, it has a fourth dimension of time as well. In short, the Kingdom of Heaven is a great treasure hidden from our views, because of our passions and fallen state, and a matter of our own choosing of sin over God. This great hidden treasure is something worth seeking, something worth fighting for, something worth dying for. Many holy martyrs and saints have shown us just what they believed in, that dying in search of this great hidden treasure, or the pearl of great price (St Matthew 13:44-46), is thoroughly worth it.
When we walk and roam in the daily grind of the world, perhaps it is fruitful to always revisit the lives of the Fathers, of all the saints before our time and in our time, and walk their journeys with them through the pages of recorded books, to perhaps get a glimpse and fleeting taste of just what waits before us, when we are willing to leave the burdens of the world behind, and to seek God instead. Therein is the great treasure, the Kingdom of Heaven, our reconciliation with God.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.