A Fool From Russia

by Catherine Doherty

What a stranger I am to myself! Unknown. To others an enigma, a pain, a stranger, a symbol sometimes, a haven, a port, a hope.

Who am I? A woman in love with God? A sinner who lies wounded on a dusty road? A mother who has given up her son, who has received with a measure pressed down, fecundity abundant from the Lord?

What am I doing on this enchanting, devastated earth?

Am I a builder who builds on rock, and yet whose buildings are torn asunder by cold winds and storms from the cruel north?

Am I a dreamer whose dreams make silken ladders between heaven and earth?

Am I a doer who spends her life looking for the wounded beset by robbers to offer them the shelter, the inn of my own heart? Am I a soul that, never having seen a vision, walks in strange lands unknown to men?

Am I the voyager whom God sends on strange errands across rivers and pathless deserts no human foot has trod before?

Am I a simple laborer who has been told to make straight the paths of God, and that with pick and shovel and nothing else to help?

Am I a voice that my own deaf ears cannot hear but that thunders its repetitious message without end? Am I a poet who composes verses for a child, one whom no one reads but who must write?

Am I real? Or just a strange illusion that is not and has never been?

Am I a mystic who weeps without ceasing for things no mystic should ever weep about – giving a bedpan to a person in need of one, the feel of a newborn child between my gentle hands, the heat of a stove into which I am putting light, soft, well-risen bread – a mystic who weeps for little ordinary things to do?

Or am I just a fool from Russia who cannot rest unless she rests in God?

From Journey Inward, pp. 18,19, (1984), MH Publications, out of print