One day a nun from the nearby convent of Diveyevo, coming to visit St. Seraphim at his hermitage in the woods near Sarov, found the old monk being visited by a bear. Terrified, the nun let out a scream. The staretz responded by patting the bear and sending it away, but when the nun came to sit beside the elder, the bear returned and lay down by Seraphim’s feet. “I was as terrified as before,” the nun later recorded, “but when I saw Father Seraphim, quite unconcerned, treating the bear like a lamb, stroking him and giving him bread, I calmed down.” Her fear left her entirely.
Paintings of the scene provide an image of a Christ-centered life in which fear is no longer the ruling force in life — a vivid image of living the Beatitudes, the theme of the Fr. John Chryssavgis’ essay in this issue of