This is a posting of a pamphlet that I received back in the 1980’s. I found the story most interesting. The story is of Dushan Jovanovich’s “Vision of Heaven and Hell’ in 1976. According to the pamphlet it was originally printed in the Newspaper of the Serbian Patriarchate and checked by ieromonk dr. Amfilohije Radovich. The translation was by a Professor Momcilo Miljkovic of the Hershey Medical Center. I have not personally checked this information.
In July of 1976, when I was forty-eight years old, I had a spiritual vision which completely changed my life. In this report I will describe as completely as possible the events which happened to me on July 11 of that year.
As a disabled veteran, I spend a couple of weeks each year in one of our health spas for physical therapy. In 1976 I spent the end of June and a portion of July in Mataruska spas and stayed in the Hotel “Zica.”
After ten days of treatments, I interrupted my stay in the spas on July 9 to return home to Kragujevac. There I attended a one-year memorial service given for a deceased, close relative of mine. The day following the memorial service at about 10 a.m. on July 11, I drove the road from Kragujevac to Mataruska spas to resume my therapy.
When I reached the bridge on the river Ibar in Kraljevo, I ran into a traffic jam, which apparently was caused by an accident near a gas station on the road to the monastery Zica. A policeman directed traffic alternately in one direction or the other—a slow method, but the best possible solution.
After the bridge, I turned right onto the road for Zica. About thirty-five or forty-five yards from the bridge was a local bus station for passengers travel¬ing between Mataruska spas and Zica. About twenty passengers waited there, among them a monk and a nun. These two stood out because they were very good-looking. The monk was of medium height, about seventy years old (although he acted much younger) with a gray, bushy, and curly beard. He wore a new black robe, and a tall hat (kamilavka) covered with a long black veil reaching down his back. On his chest he wore a shiny cross on one chain or braid and a medalion or small icon on another. The icon looked as if it were St. Mary with Jesus Christ—a woman’s face with a child.
The nun who stood beside the monk wore a long black dress. Her head was also covered with a tall hat similar to the monk’s hat, but her veil was shorter and reached only to her shoulders. She was of medium height and very pretty with beautiful, big eyes. Like the monk, she wore a shiny cross and medallion on her chest. All of this glowed in the sun. At the time I could not recognize their ranks, which is why this description is so poor.
The monk and nun tried unsuccessfully to stop one of the passing cars by raising their hands. Many cars had room for two or more passengers, but no one wanted to stop. I thought critically, “Why? Monks and nuns are as much humans as we are! Why do the people turn their heads away from them?” I could not stand this discrimination toward monks and nuns, and decided to pick up the pair if no one before me did. As I approached, they signalled me to stop, too. I accepted their call and pulled over. The monk came to me and said, “God help us.” I answered, “God help us.” I did not usually greet people this way, because I did not believe in God. I answered only to please him.
The monk asked if I could take him and the nun to the monastery Zica. I said I could and invited them into the car. I opened the right door and pushed the front seat forward so one of them could get into the back of the car. Then the nun came and greeted me in the same way; I answered “God help us!” as I had before. She got into the car first, and sat on the back seat directly behind me. Then the monk got into the back seat beside her. I suggested that he come to the empty front seat so everyone could have more room, but the monk answered, “It is not crowded here, Dushan, go ahead and drive!”
After these words I fell silent. I locked the right-hand door through which they entered the car to prevent the door from accidently opening. I turned the car toward the road and waited for someone to let me back into the line.
While waiting, the monk asked, “Are you coming from Kragujevac where you attended a memorial service?” He asked a question and answered it at the same time. I was very surprised that he knew my name and where I came from. Confused, I did not have time to regain my composure, so I answered, “Yes, I have come from Kragujevac. Yesterday we had a memorial service for a relative of mine.” The monk listened to me and said, “You are going to the health spas, but you are not taking the therapeutic baths?” “1 don’t dare take them because the water in the spas is rather warm, and I am afraid that after a bath I would catch a cold, and feel more miserable than I felt before I came to the spas,” I answered him.
As soon as the monk finished talking, the nun asked me: “Dushan, where were you born? In Zakuta!” and thus she, too, asked me a question and answered it at the same time. Then she continued: “Dushan, everybody in your family is alive and well: your father Dimitry, your mother Darinka, sister Dusanka, and your brother Dragoljub. They all believe in God, they celebrate the Krsna Slava, but they are a little inconsistent. In anger they curse God. Your brother Milovan is a very educated man, a highly trained specialist, but at the same time a great atheist.”
When she finished, the monk said, “And you, Dushan, believe that God created man. You do not support that “scholarly” view that man descended from monkey, but you do not pray to God. You have a kind heart and you are honest. On three occasions you could have become rich, but you did not because you did not want to be dishonest. You are kind toward old and poor. Because of your kindness you stopped, answered our greeting with “God help us!” and took us into your car. You are lucky you did this; the others who passed us, turned their heads away and spat on us. They would be better off if they were never born than to have refused us.”
I did not understand the deep meaning of these words, but I trembled with fear. Just then a driver signalled for me to get back into line ahead of him, which I did immediately. Soon we passed the site of the accident. Just as I decided to increase my speed to get to Zica sooner, a truck loaded with bricks and other building materials pulled from a small side road into the traffic ahead of me. This slowed us considerably, since I had to drive cautiously behind him and passing was still difficult. I often checked the traffic behind me to see if anyone wanted to pass me. One time, as I looked into the rearview mirror I saw an unexpected sight: the faces of the monk and nun glowed and above their heads halos shone with blinding intensity. I trembled with excitement and realized that these were not common humans.
These events upset me so that I began to drive even more cautiously. The monk and the nun told my life story from the earliest day I could remember to the present. They recalled all my deeds—good and bad. They even told of private plans which I had abandoned for various reasons. To my surprise, they described events from my life as accurately as if they read them from a book. They praised my good deeds and reprimanded me with a soft voice for my indecent life. I wanted to sink into the earth from fear and shame, or do something to stop this torture, but there was no choice. I had to hear and endure everything.
I will not talk about all their reprimands, because they concerned my very private life. Later I confessed them and asked for forgiveness. I will, however, describe in greater detail one important reprimand, which came from the nun, since it is instructive to others.
“Dushan,” she said, “why did you refuse to talk to your father when your family attended the birthday party at the home of your cousin, Desa?” I answered, “My father was neglecting me in comparison with the other children. He did not have the right attitude with us and I wanted to hurt and embarrass him by not talking to him in public.” The nun said, “Who are you, and who are we to judge the others? The Lord is the only one who will judge and see that the justice is done! The Lord said in one of his Commandments that we must respect our father and mother. He promised a reward to those who obey it—a long and happy life on earth. Parents are sacred to their children in this world. You are lucky that you regretted your behaviour toward your father and went to him the next day, embraced him and asked him for forgiveness..Your father cried from joy and said, “I forgive you my son!” The nun told everything exactly as it happened, and this lesson left me speechless. (to be continued…)