He

HE

 STANA APOSTOL

The church was almost ready. Today nun Vassila had come down from the monastery to teach sexton Mona how to ring the bell for a celebration and for the dead.
A few years ago the village had become a town and was growing more and more. The Mayor was young and ambitious, the abbess of the convent in the mountains – too. For three years they have been collecting donations and investing them in the construction of the new church. They attracted to the cause an architect whose ancestors and family were also local people. The school of woodcarving made ​​the iconostasis. “Holy Trinity”, they called it this way. The eparchy had already chosen which of the priests form the district would come two days a week to serve here in the temple. All the people were so glad!
Even the construction team, on their own initiative, made a wooden balcony for the church choir. It had mahogany railings!
– Monke, why d’you say there can’t be stairs to the balcony inside? – the bulky, stooped nun was watching through her large magnifying glasses half-fallen upon her nose.
– Because the masters were up by the scaffolding and did not think that the staircase would need more room.
– It has plenty of room, the church is big.
– It seems big when you compare it with that of the monastery, and your church is like a chapel, and it dates back from times immemorial.
– Well, let them make it curved and steep – the nun said nothing about the comments on the monastery church. – The choir sings only a weekday Mass, they will not climb it every day!
– The mayor bought some very nice timber, but there is no master to make such a winding wooden staircase, the one that we need!
– You have to call the Eparchy. The Archbishop will find such a carpenter!
– He has called everywhere, even in capital, but there is no carpenter! It seems the stairs will be made outside and they will be made of stone. It is a good thing we erected it on the square, it is spacious!
– Square, you call this square, this rock at the end of the village! – Vassila put his hand over her eyebrows, to prevent the sun from blinding her and looked over the area. – Is the belfry unlocked ? Come to show you how to make tones from a singing bell !
– We are already a town and this hill we call the square because it is the place where we go up and down and make kurbans* – old Mona was muttering, no one knew how old she was.
Both women were dressed in black with black veils, from the distance one could not distinguish who the nun was. Soon, over the lush green with lush spring grass low hill, in the center of which there stood the white new building of the church came the melodic sound of the copper bell. It flickered and fluttered over the red-roofed houses.
– Very nice echo there. You could hear it throughout the village – sister Vassila still called the town “the village”, but this time the old widow Mona paid no attention. – Oh, and you made a nice path underneath from the street to the entrance of the temple. It winds like a sleepy snake.
She squinted and adjusted his glasses.
Then she stared.
Mona, the widow, was thinking whether a young, robust man who knows carpentry, would come one day, say “Good morning” and then take up with the stairs inside. Because of it, the church is unfinished, they can not open it. Nun Vassila, though younger, put her hands on her waist, that it hurt a lot and also started day-dreaming. She wanted to see an old, grizzled master, bearded, smiling and saying, “I hear you needed a steep wooden staircase, so I came, you build it!”
At this point, all of a sudden, he loomed on the winding cobblestone path. The man moved as if floating in the rays of the spring sun. He was not carrying anything. When he approached, they could not hear well what he said. They left him the keys and explained that one of them had to return to the convent, and the other had to visit her daughter for the next three days. They did not even remember if they said “goodbye”.

***
When after three days sexton Mona came back and went to the church to check what was happening, she found it locked. She unlocked and went speechless. The wooden spiral staircase was ready. It looked as if the railings were made from a single mahogany timber, wrapped in two loops and the stairs were so smooth and shiny, as if they were not touched by human hand. She climbed up slowly, stood on the balcony, looked the entire room, the pulpit, the icons and her old heart that had been hardened for so long, softened and melted. Then she easily went down the marvelous steps and got out. She went to to the bell tower and began ringing the bell for a celebration.
The people heard the bell and headed to the church. They came in, admiring the unseen wooden staircase, making a cross on themselves and went out to the square. Word of mouth drifted, he came and created the stairs to make their new church a unique home to the Lord. They asked Mona how he looked like, because no one but she and nun Vassila had seen him. The widow who was very old, told them he was a beautiful, young man, with lush hair and strong hands.
Those who visited the convent, asked with prying eyes sister Vassila to describe him. She told them that he was white-haired, white-bearded, with smiling eyes and a proud stance.
On the opening of the temple, the church singers, men and women, climbed the winding staircase to the balcony. The priest was performing the church service, dressed in a golden tunic. The church could not seat all those people who wanted to pray. Sweet prayers flew up to the sky.
He had come to help them, he had made the ​​wooden staircase and their gratitude was enormous.
When the bell started ringing with its copper voice a white dove flew from somewhere and perched on the cross.
*kurban = a sacrificial rite, a special dish, served as a soup, made to honor the dead people

 

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