THE LINER, THE LIFEBOAT AND THE DINGHY
St Anatolius of Optina
A Summary of the Words of Prince Alexander Trubetskoi, Paris, 10 July 2007
After a time a small foreign ship drew alongside the lifeboat. Some of the passengers in the lifeboat decided to get out of the lifeboat into a dinghy, which was being towed behind the ship. Those remaining in the lifeboat disagreed with the passengers who were getting out, warning them that the dinghy could at any moment be tossed over by the waves or that the fragile cable linking it to the foreign ship would snap.
Many years passed. Those in the lifeboat managed to survive, despite the great turbulence of the waves. And then a miracle happened. From over the horizon they saw the liner steaming towards them and, as it drew near, they heard the shouts of the passengers. ‘The storm is over. Look, we’re repairing the damage to our ship. Already parts of it are as new. Come and join us! You’ll help us and we’ll help you in the lifeboat’.
And so the passengers in the lifeboat drew near and the great liner and the lifeboat sailed calmly side by side, heading in the same direction to the great port. Passengers would get off the liner to visit the lifeboat; others would get off the lifeboat to visit the liner. Those from the liner marvelled at how the little lifeboat had survived and how much the passengers on her remembered about life aboard the liner and how they wanted to help to make her even better than she had been before the great storm. Those from the lifeboat marvelled at the damage done to the liner by the storm and how the passengers there had not only survived, but also how much they had already repaired since the storm had calmed.
Then suddenly, in the distance, both those on the liner and those on the lifeboat spotted the dinghy. Though weatherbeaten, it was still there, towed far behind the little ship, with the cable worn and about to snap, swirling around in dangerous currents. They called out to the little group in the dinghy: ‘We’re here! You’re saved. Get into the big liner or join us on the lifeboat! We’re all going in the same direction now, towards the great port! Come with us!’
Here our story ends for now. But we hope that in time we will be able to recount what happened next and whether those on the dinghy returned or whether, so attached to their dingy, they decided to stay in the swirling currents and almost certain drowning.
27 June/ 10 July 2007
Joanna the Myrrh-Bearer
Since writing the above three days ago, I have been asked about others who may wish to join the lifeboat or the liner. Naturally, those who wish to join the lifeboat or the liner are welcome to do so. Indeed, we strongly advise any whose boats, like the dinghy, appear to be capsizing and who therefore risk drowning, to draw closer. They may either join us or else sail along with us. Several other ships have already joined us in our convoy and we are all now heading in the same direction to the great port. But it would be best to join us soon, for we are told that stormy weather lies ahead.
Other readers have asked why we in the lifeboat do not simply get aboard the liner. This is because in the lifeboat we enjoy two advantages. On the one hand, now that the liner has joined us, we are protected from storms by sailing close to it. On the other hand, since the lifeboat is a much smaller and more manoeuvrable vessel, it is much closer to local conditions. Therefore, we can go out in the lifeboat on missions to rescue others. Notably we can pick up survivors of the wreck of the old liner.
Long ago this liner foolishly reversed course, because its crew thought they had found a shorter route to the great port. However, they soon sailed into a terrible storm and their liner was seriously damaged. Eventually, it split into two and slowly began sinking. Starving and thirsting, the survivors of this wreck are scattered all over the sea, still clinging to home-made rafts and driftwood. The survivors of this disaster face dangerous currents and treacherous whirlpools and are sometimes swept far away from the mainstream. These survivors are not always visible to those on the liner, who in any case are still busy with their own repairs, but they are visible to us in the lifeboat. Indeed, I am one of those survivors, who once clutched at the fragments of driftwood, and was picked up many years ago.
particular, I would ask any readers, with enough time, to remember in
prayer my forebears. Survivors from the old liner, which was wrecked long,
long before their time and is now all but sunk, they passed on many years
ago. These are my great-grandparents: Frederick (born 1862), Emma (born
1862), Elizabeth (born 1865), Mary (born 1866), Thomas (born 1868), Thomas
(born 1870), James (born 1872), Amelia (born 1872); and my grandparents:
Lily (born 1885), William (born 1887), Henry (born 1895) and Dorothy (born