The Story of Silver
from a letter by St. Nikolai Velimirovich, to a man who reached a high position but not happiness.
It is as if tears pour out of your letter. You strived to reach a high position. You thought that you would also find happiness. Many others around you did the same. So you had to fight for it, push, and endure anxieties. You figured that happiness, not just happiness, but life itself, would begin with obtaining this position. Until then, you considered yourself unfortunate, almost non-existent. Finally, you attained the desired goal. For a few days you felt like you were born again. Then the disappointment came. Of course, you were as far from happiness as you were before. Except earlier, you believed that happiness did exist—somewhere in the high positions—but now you have lost that faith. You have reached the clouds but not the stars. Now you regret your running after happiness on the wrong path and encouraging others to do the same. So you wish to go back to your former modest position where the burden of responsibility is lesser and the stings of envy weaker. Perhaps you will find this story useful:
The story of silver…
In a big park, a celebration was prepared, but nobody could enter it without tickets. Many wanted to come in, but they could not pay for the tickets. Then, a rich man, wanting to test human weaknesses, threw a handful of gold coins into the crowd of children. They were fake coins, tokens, and among them was only one real silver coin. The children rushed for the coins, fought, argued, until they gathered them all. Nobody bothered picking up the silver coin because they figured that gold was more valuable than silver. Those who gathered the coins were holding them in their hands and they felt happy for a moment. But soon, something unexpected and miserable for them happened. When they approached the park gates and asked for tickets, it turned out they had fake money, and city guards took them to jail. Only one of them was wise and seeing what was happening to his friends, he threw down the coin he had and went and picked up the silver one. With that coin, he paid for the ticket and went into the park for the party.
The party is the Kingdom of Heaven, or the kingdom of immortal happiness. The coins are fleshly desires and worldly vanities and self-delusions which draw people away from the kingdom of true happiness and into the kingdom of torment and darkness. Pure silver is the inner goodness and the truth of a righteous man. Children who were easily fooled by the glitter of the world are the sinners. The last child who discarded the fake gold and took the real silver is the repentant sinner.
Taken from St. Nikolai (Velimirovich), Missionary Letters of Saint Nikolai Velimirovich, Part I: Letters 1-100, ed. Fr. Milorad Loncar, trans. Hierodeacon Seraphim (Baltic), vol. 6, A Treasury of Serbian Orthodox Spirituality (Grayslake, Illinois: Joe Buley Memorial Library, New Gracanica Monastery, 2008), pp. 145-7. This excerpt is posted with permission of the editor and the New Gracanica Diocese. Missionary Letters of Saint Nikolai Velimirovich, Part I is available for purchase from the online New Gracanica Bookstore. (Please note that the New Gracanica Bookstore is not affiliated with The Monastic Library or the Hermitage of the Holy Cross.)