Orthodox Byzantine Chants
Holy Mount Athos
One day a young man stopped in the centre of a great city and started to say to the passersby that he had the most beautiful heart from all that place. After a while a big crowd of people gathered around him and all of them admired his heart, which was perfect. You couldn’t see on his heart any trace, any scratch. They all agreed that it was indeed the most beautiful heart they had ever seen. The young man was very proud of his heart and kept on boasting with it.
Then an old man approached the crowd. In a quiet voice, he said as for himself:
“But the perfection of his heart cannot compare with the beauty of my heart.”
The people from the crowd surrounding the young man started to turn their gaze upon the heart of that old man. Even the youngster was curious to see the heart which dared to compare with his. It was a strong heart, its beats being heard from far away. But it was full of scars, of places where its bits were replaced by others which didn’t match it quite well, the lines which joined the foreign pieces and the heart of the old man being sinuous, even rugged. More than that, from point to point big pieces of that rival heart were missing and there were open, yet bleeding wounds.
“How could he say that he had a beautiful heart”, the men whispered amazed.
The young man after he had examined carefully the heart of the old man, raised his eyes and told him laughing:
“You must be joking, you dodderer!” “Look at my heart – it is perfect!” “While yours is an open wound, only tears and pain.”
“Yes”, the old man said kindly. “Your heart looks perfect, but I would never change my heart with yours.” “You see, each scar from my heart means a person to whom I offered my love.” “I tear a piece of my heart and I give it to the person who is near me and that one often gives me a piece of his heart in return, which fits in the empty place from my heart.” “But because the pieces are not measured precisely, there are left some rugged edges I dearly treasure, because they remind me of the love I shared with the person next to me.” “Sometimes I gave pieces of my heart to some people who didn’t give me anything in change, not even the slightest bit of their heart.” “These are the open wounds from my heart, the black holes – loving the people around you always involves a certain risk.” “And even if these wounds are bleeding and are painful, they remind me of the love I have even for such people.” “And who knows, one day they might come back to me and fill the empty places with pieces of their hearts.” “Now you understand, my dear, what’s the true beauty of the heart?” ended the old man in a soft voice and with a warm smile.
The young man remained silent aside, with big tears on his cheeks. Then he got near the old man, tore a piece from his perfect heart and gave it to him with trembling hands. The old man took his piece and put it on his heart. Then he tore a piece from his own heart full of scars and put it on the heart of the young man. It matched it, but not perfectly because the edges were a bit rugged. The young man looked at his heart, which was not perfect anymore, but it was more beautiful than ever, because in the heart once perfect now was beating the love from the old man’s heart. They embraced each other and smiled, then left together.