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Thursday 23 April 2009

Unless A Seed Falls Into the Ground and Dies

When Ella - Grand Duchess Elizabeth - went to the prison to forgive her husband's killer, he told her that on a previous occasion he could have killed her, too, but spared her life. Ella replied that in killing her husband, Serge, he had killed her, too.
Considering it was only three days since she had gathered Serge's bloody remains in her own hands, the shock and horror of what she had witnessed must have been so traumatic as to render her almost incapable of thinking straight but there was something in those words to which subsequent events bear testimony.
The Ella whom people had known as the 'most beautiful princess in Europe', the Ella who had stunned every man in every ballroom, who had disappeared partway through an evening to reappear in a completely different set of jewels and attire, who won the hearts of the same people who despised her husband, suddenly was no more.
Instead there was the real Ella: the person who had been raised in an atmosphere of beauty and service to the poor; the Ella who had 'longed since childhood to help those who suffer, especially those in moral suffering' - the Ella to whom beauty meant something more than superficial appearances.
It seems very much a visible example of 'unless a seed falls into the ground and dies...'
Ella's whole life changed through horror and tragedy but it wasn't destroyed - on the contrary, after twenty years as a stifled and passive wife, it returned her to herself.
Perhaps, had she not been raised in an atmosphere of tragedy and suffering, she might have learned that lesson in happier circumstances. It seems to me that when we believe suffering is necessary, we find it and it can change us for the better, if we so choose, but the greater lesson is to know that suffering isn't necessary and was never part of the Divine Plan. The only thing we die to is the false notion of the need to be anything other than our true selves. If we learn that lesson through suffering, good comes of it. If we learn that lesson through joy, so much the better!

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