I’ve wondered on more than one occasion what to make of the fact that I find the late Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky so comforting. Plenty of people love Dostoyevsky, I don’t believe that makes me in any way special. It’s that I find his rather dark expressions of the world comforting. What many think of as dark, I view as realistic, and accepting the world as it is can be comforting as much as alarming.
That was actually a warm up to the very sad short story I am linking to as this year’s Christmas post. It’s called The Heavenly Christmas Tree, is a very short read (15 minutes at most), and is readily available for free on the web.
It’s a sad story with a joyful ending because it ends in Heaven, but its journey is a mournful one. Although this is Advent and not Easter, reading it reminds me of Christ’s journey to Calvary. It too was a mournful one that culimnated with the joy; the joy of His resurrection and ascension.
Here’s a snippet of Dostoyevsky’s compelling and beautifully written short story:
Touching his mother’s face, he was surprised that she did not move at all and that she was as cold as the wall. “It is very cold here,” he thought. He stood a little, unconsciously letting his hands rest on the dead woman’s shoulders, then he breathed on his fingers to warm them, and then quietly fumbling for his cap on the bed, he went out of the cellar. He would have gone earlier, but was afraid of the big dog which had been howling all day at the neighbor’s door at the top of the stairs. But the dog was not there now, and he went out into the street.
Mercy on us, what a town! He had never seen anything like it before. In the town from which he had come, it was always such black darkness at night. There was one lamp for the whole street, the little, low-pitched, wooden houses were closed up with shutters, there was no one to be seen in the street after dusk, all the people shut themselves up in their houses, and there was nothing but the howling of packs of dogs, hundreds and thousands of them barking and howling all night. But there it was so warm and he was given food, while here—oh dear if he only had something to eat! And what a noise and rattle here, what light and what people, horses and carriages, and what a frost! The frozen steam hung in clouds over the horses, over their warmly breathing mouths; their hoofs clanged against the stones through the powdery snow, and everyone pushed so, and—oh, dear, how he longed for some morsel to eat, and how wretched he suddenly felt. A policeman walked by and turned away to avoid seeing the boy.
You should read the rest. At the very least, it should inspire gratitude for the bounty most of us are enjoying this Christmas season. At most, it will inspire longing for the feast that awaits us at the end of all temporal things.