From the Notebooks
The Russian has always loved the Earth, venerating her black depths, the crops that spring from her lungs, and the resting home she gives at death. She’s the Russian’s embodiment of kindness and mercy in a land that has seen too much of these virtues’ antitheses. The Russian’s devotion to Mother Earth is so strong that the phrase “Cult of Mother Earth” is used to describe its fervor.
The Cult and Father Zossima
The fervor is beautifully illustrated in Dostoyevsky’s Father Zossima, the Starets of Alyosha Karamazov’s monastery in The Brothers Karamazov. Father Zossima was graphic in his love for Mother Earth. He urged his disciples to prostrate themselves on the earth, to kiss it tirelessly, to love it insatiably, to water it with tears of joy.
Fr. Zossima strongly felt the foundational assumption underlying the Cult of Mother Earth: There exists an unbreakable bond between the divine world, man, and creation. This bond creates an intimate link between each person and other creatures, as illustrated by Fr. Zossima in this anecdote:
A dying youth asked the birds to forgive him. That may sound absurd, but when you think of it, it makes sense. For everything is like the ocean, all things flow and are indirectly linked together, and if you push here, something will move at the other end of the world. . . Understand that everything is like the ocean. Then, consumed by eternal love, you will pray to the birds, too. In a state of fervor you will pray to them to forgive you your sins.
This unbreakable bond, Fr. Zossima taught, makes every man responsible for every man: … Read the rest