Tereza Bacheva

 

A story about Sly Peter, a wily Bulgarian folk hero, has it that he wrote a letter to God, leaving it at the altar of the church. He asked for simple things, for some money for his family, struggling to make ends meet.

But why writing a letter? Why not just presenting himself to God upon entering the church and uttering a prayer as usually? For fear or caution or anonymity or something else?

Comfort at a distance, easily inventible.

Recently, a priest was killed in France while officiating at mass. Certainly everyone was shocked by the atrocity upon hearing the news. Fortunately, we, of course, were not there and then to witness the violent incident. We are experiencing it keeping our already trained composure of remote inertia, finding secular justifications: the priest was a man like all those killed in terror attacks. But then again, was his killing a symbolic act or was he just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Either way, our minds, squeezed into political, social, economic or some awareness-raising or whatever they are models, would go just to the point of becoming mutually exclusive.

We are good at comfort and yet, we are concerned.

If eating, who are we: culinary connoisseurs?

If researching, who are we: learned explorers of an art that has to be classified, indexed, and ready to use?

If we are Christians, who are we: tourists entering a church just to ‘sightsee’ and then proceed in raptures to the next site?

Are we marginalizing the essence to come to know it (or to come to now something around it?

Do we damage the relations established by our civilisation by consulting elsewhere or parrying reactions? We’d say that we were fond of our civilisation, proud proprietors: we belong to it and it belongs to us, seeking justification in it. Yet the façade of our pride masks a ‘take it easy’ approach, departing from its main etymology.

In fact, the ‘justification’ seems to be at an arm’s length: is it wrong to eat when you are hungry; do we indulge from time to time in experiencing culture; is it appalling to go to church to pray or talk to the priest evidencing in body and mind that we have not after all lost the connection to our Christian self?

What about the letter left by Sly Peter? It didn’t get lost. It was delivered to the right addressee, because the priest was there for him, doing his duty. Though the character of the story is said to not have been exactly happy with the ‘services rendered’, in any case there was someone to get his message across to God.

 

Memorial and museum “Auschwitz-Birkenau” Poland