Grace Notes in the Desert

Grace Notes in the Desert is written for the saints of Rio Grande Presbyterian Church and the surrounding community.

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Grace Notes acknowledges we need God's grace and forgivness as much as the desert water.


A Saint's Life

"It was a late Easter, the days were bright, fine, and full of fragrance. I remember how (my brother) used to cough all night, and sleep badly, but in the morning he dressed and tried to sit up in an arm-chair. That's how I remember him, sitting, sweet and gentle, smiling, his face bright and joyous, in spite of his illness.

A marvelous change passed over him, his spirit seemed transformed...My mother would go to her room and weep, but when she went in to him she wiped her eyes and looked cheerful. "Mother, don't weep, darling...Don't cry, is paradise, and we are all in paradise, but we won't see it, if we would, we should have heaven on earth the next day.

Every one wondered at his words, he spoke so strangely and positively; 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 me so, how can you love any one like me, and how was it I did not know,I did not appreciate it before?"

When the servants came in to him he would say continually, "Dear, kind people, why are you doing so much for me, do I deserve to be waited on? If it were God's will for me to live, I should wait on you, for all (people) should wait on one another."

Mother shook her head as she listened. "My darling, it's your illness makes you talk like that."

"Mother, darling," he would say... "every one of us has sinned against all (people), and I more than any."

..."Why, how could you have sinned against all people, more than all? Robbers and murderers have done that, but what sin have you committed that you hold yourself more guilty than all?"

"Mother, little heart of mine," he said (he had begun using such strange carressing words at the time), "little heart of mine, my joy, believe me, every one is really responsible to all people, for all people and for everything. I don't know how to explain it to you, but I feel it is so, painfully even. And how is it we went on then living, getting angry, and not knowing?.."

The windows of his room looked out into the garden, and our garden was a shady one, with old trees in it which were coming into bud. The first birds of spring were flitting in the branches, chirping and singing at the windows.

And looking at them and admiring them, he bagan suddenly begging their forgiveness too, "Birds of heaven, happy birds, forgive me for I have sinned against you too." None of us understood that at the time, but he shed tears of joy. "Yes," he said, "there was such glory of God all about me; birds, trees, meadows, the sky, only I lived in shame and dishonored it all and did not notice the beauty and the glory..."

There was a great deal more I don't remember. I remember I went once into his room when there was no on else there. It was a bright evening, the sun was setting, and the whole room was lit up. He beckoned me, and I went up to him. He put his hands on my shoulders and looked into my face tenderly, lovingly; he said nothing for a minute, only looked at me like that.

"Well," he said, "run and play now, enjoy life for me too."

I went out and ran and played. And many times in my life afterwards I remembered even with tears how he told me to enjoy life for him too. There were many other marvelous and beautiful sayings of his, though we did not understand them at the time. He died the third week after Easter."

--Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov