Saturday, February 2, 2008

Two Prayers by Solzhenitsyn

I offer two prayers written by Solzhenitsyn and included in the book I've been urging you to acquire. The editors offer this introduction:
The two prayers that Solzhenitsyn places among the miniatures deserve special notes. In "A Prayer," composed shortly after One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich made him famous, he serenely acknowledges that God's gracious providence governs his ongoing career; thus, it shows better than anything else his personal relationship with God. The behind-the-scenes story is fascinating. One of his helpers, Elizaveta Voronyanskaya, released this text without permission. Although he scolded her at the time, the widely reproduced prayer elicited many grateful reactions. Moreover, it was a key factor in his being awarded the Templeton Prize, and he recounts that composing the "Templeton Lecture" deepened his understanding of himself. Voronyanskaya played a similar role in the appearance of The Gulag Archipelago by disregarding Solzhenitsyn's instruction to destroy her copy, which the KGB then located. With his hand forced, Solzhenitsyn ordered the work published, and it went on to extert its world-historical influence. About Voronyanskaya, he concludes, "For both willfull acts I can only be grateful to her – she served as an instrument of God's will." After Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia in 1994, he wrote "A Prayer for Russia"; he felt a need for such a prayer, and he prays it every day.

A Prayer

How easy for me to live with You, Lord!
How easy to believe in You!
When my mind casts about
or flags in bewilderment,
when the cleverest among us
cannot see past the present evening,
not knowing what to do tomorrow –
You send me the clarity to know
that You exist
and will take care
that not all paths of goodness should be barred.
At the crest of earthly fame
I look back in wonderment
at the journeys beyond hope – to this place,
from which I was able to send mankind
a reflection of Your rays.
And however long the time
that I must yet reflect them
You will give it me.
And whatever I fail to accomplish
You surely have alloted unto others.

A Prayer for Russia

Our Father All-Merciful!
Don't abandon Your own long-suffering Russia
In her present daze,
In her woundedness,
And confusion of spirit.
Lord Omnipotent!
Don't let, don't let her be cut short,
To no longer be.
So many forthright hearts
And so many talents
You have lodged among Russians.
Do not let them perish or sink into darkness
Without having served in Your name.
Out of the depths of Calamity
Save Your disordered people.


Chris Tilling said...

Wonderful. Full of grace.

Unknown said...

Anonymous said...

Mr. Solzhenitsyn's prayers are heartfelt.

I pray now for his widow, children, and grandchildren that God comforts them!

They will see him again.