Laurus. The Wisdom of a Holy Fool

A few months ago I finished a Russian novel by Eugene Vodolazkin called “Laurus.” The story takes place in the 15th century and follows the life of a man named “Arseny” who takes on several roles throughout the novel – he is a student, husband, healer, holy fool, and hope for those who are hurting. I started reading the book right as the COVID-19 crisis began and some of the quotes were so meaningful in that context. I’ve listed a few of them below:

“…everyone remains alone with God at the final moment.”

“What is this? the new abbess asks those present, herself most of all. Is this the result of our brother Ustin’s therapeutic measures or the Lord’s miracle, appearing independently of human action? Essentially, the abbess answers herself: one does not contradict the other, for a miracle can be the result of effort multiplied by faith.”

“Arseny’s heart fills with grief because he understands that the world does not remain the same after a patient passes away.”

“People began treating him more warmly when they were convinced he was only interested in the end of the world.” (this sentence made me laugh out loud around midnight as I was reading and I think woke up my wife, Andi!)

“the beauty of my land did not allow me to concentrate on what is most important.”

“A city of saints, whispered Ambrogio, following the play of the shadow. They present us the illusion of life. No, objected Arseny, also in a whisper. They disprove the illusion of death.”

“But I should think the main difficulty is not in the movement (Ambrogio met Arseny’s glance), but in choosing the path.”

“Sometimes it is easier to speak when people do not understand you.”

“”Arseny battled human fear as well as illness. He walked around the city and prevailed on people not to fear. As he advised them to take precautions, Arseny warned against panic, which is ruinous. He reminded them that not one hair would fall from a person’s head without God’s will, and called on people not to forget about helping those nearby. Many had forgotten.”

“for many people, the attraction of seeing someone else’s fall with one’s own eyes is stronger than hunger.”

Grace and peace to you all today.