That day, the service in the small church of St. George in Surdulica was quite well attended. Anatolije Lazarevic stood in front of the church entrance and shook hands with the faithful. He was tired and had pain in his back. He thought about doing some stretching exercises, as the doctor recommended, but he had been putting off the thought for several days. He would be sixty-nine in March and being on his feet every day did not ease the pain he felt in his lower back. With his hand, he reached out to the last believer, who left the church.
May God bless every step of your life.
It was said that he gives people tranquility and peace, and for that, they are grateful to him. A kind word helps to cleanse a soul, he thought, and God knows there are many souls in these times who need help.
All the best, Father, said the man in front of him.
He smiled and nodded at him.
God bless you.
The man nodded and went down the stairs.
He looked at the people who were slowly moving away from the church. It was cold outside, the temperature dropped below zero. Meteorologists predicted that it would snow. He was about to turn around when noticed someone was watching him. He was standing a little further away, staring at him. He had a hat on his head, and a scarf around his neck, which covered his mouth and nose, only his eyes were visible. Their eyes met and the man raised his hand to him. Anatolije Lazarevic nodded him, the breath he exhaled flickered in front of his face in the form of white clouds.
Good morning, the man said and stood in front of him.
In his look, he felt a pang of conscience. After many years of experience with confessions, he knew how to recognize them immediately.
Good day. How can I help you?
The man stared at the priest. His eyes were bright, the glow in them shining like a reflection off the water’s surface.
No one can help me anymore.
God helps all, son. You just must pray for his mercy.
The man held out his hand. Anatolije Lazarevic noticed that he was holding a notebook.
This is for you.
Anatolije took the notebook.
For me? He asked and looked into the man’s eyes once again.
He looked away.
Read it, Father. Please.
Anatolije Lazarevic felt remorse as if the pores of the stranger’s skin had opened and released traces of unpleasant emotions into the air.
Would you like to go inside the church with me?
The man raised his head.
Thank you, Father, but it’s too late for me.