When Dostoevsky Was Dying

Icon of the Parable of the Prodigal Son

“He made us come into the room,” his daughter, Lyubov (Aimee) Dostoevsky, recalled, “and, taking our little hands in his, he begged my mother to read the Parable of the Prodigal Son. He listened with his eyes closed, absorbed in his thoughts. “My children,” he said in his feeble voice, “never forget what you have just heard. Have absolute faith in God and never despair of His pardon. I love you dearly, but my love is nothing compared to the love of God. Even if you should be so unhappy as to commit some dreadful crime, never despair of God. You are His children; humble yourselves before Him, as before your father, implore His pardon, and He will rejoice over your repentance, as the father rejoiced over that of the prodigal son.” A few minutes later, Dostoevsky passed triumphantly away. “I have been present,” said Lyubov, “at many deathbeds, but none was so radiant as that of my father. Without fear he saw the end approaching.” from The Prodigal: Sidelights on an Immortal Story (1941) by F. W. Boreham

This past Sunday was the Sunday of the Prodigal Son found only in Luke 15. Something about the father not only embracing but also kissing his prodigal son really got me. The father did not stand on protocol or at a distance with this son of his. The father accepts him back and fully restores him because he loves the son. That’s it. The son had said, “no” to the father’s values, table and life. But the son, like us, is only home when he is reunited to father’s values, table and life. I, like Dostoevsky did, hope to have this on my mind at my end.

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons; 12 and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.’ And he divided his living between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. 15 So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”‘ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; 23 and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; 24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry. 25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'” Luke 15:11-32


1 Comment

Filed under Orthodox Christianity, Scripture Rumination

One response to “When Dostoevsky Was Dying

  1. Christian Gonzalez

    Just saw this, and THIS is why I FREAKING LOVE DOSTOEVSKY.

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