+Saint Nikolai Velimirovic

Originally printed in Issue 18.

Death is not natural; rather it is unnatural.

And death is not from nature; rather it is against nature.

All of nature cries out: “I do not know death! I do not wish death! I am afraid of death! I strive against death!”

Death is an uninvited stranger to nature.

All of nature bristles at this uninvited stranger and is afraid of it because it is like a thief in somebody else’s garden who does not just steal and eat the fruit, but also who tramples, spoils, breaks and uproots what is planted and the more it ravages, the more it becomes satisfied.

Even when one hundred philosophies declare that “Death is Natural!” all of nature trembles in indignations and shouts: “No! I have no use for death! It is an uninvited stranger!”

And the voice of nature is not sophistry.

The protest of nature against death outweighs all excuses thought up to justify death.

And if there is something that nature struggles to express in its untouched harmony, doing so without expectation in unison of voices, this it is a protest against death. It is its unanimous, frantic, and heaven-shaking elegy to death.

If in fact death is unnatural, if it is not natural and against nature, then a question arises: why is it so and whence does death enter nature?

Not a single kingdom of light and life accepts death as its native. It must have sneaked into the world’s life secretly—crawling on its belly and staying out of sight so that it would not be spotted and exposed—from some bottomless abyss where even it was too cold and lonely.

When death was under the stinger of a snake, it was dead for itself and nobody in the world knew about good and evil—only the bliss existed; and nobody heard of knowledge and ignorance—there was only wisdom; and nobody knew of life and death—there was only the state of blissfully wise existence.

But because of an occasion, which is more dreadful that the most horrible nightmare, the mouth of the snake opened and the stinger full of venom appeared out of it—and death entered the first-created nature… This intrusion could be likened to the way a tiny worm penetrates the spine of a man without him even sensing the invasion so that the man continues to blossom and feel merry. Then he will fell the worm as a pleasant itching; he might rub his back, smile and say: “It is nothing.” And this will go on until the moment the worm grows big, multiplies and exhausts the spine so that the man becomes like a hollow cane which mindlessly whistles a hymn of madness and death.

What doctor would say to this madman with a dried up spine when he, in the doctor’s presence, like a hollow cane whistles a triumphal hymn to death: “Go and sin no more, and you will be whole.”? Not a single doctor in this world. Perhaps only that doctor who is not different than his patient.

Why is it that the sickly-sweet upholders of ethics, with their sickly-sweet theories do not depict the devil on the front page? Why do they not say to say sinner: “Go and sin no more.”? That is: Go and do not let more worms into your spine!

What a joy must feel the worm that has already burrowed unto one’s spine when it hears such counselors! Truly it rejoices with joy of a hungry one who has enough food for himself and knows that it will not have to be shared with anybody.