“What do you think, are we sinners?” the teacher asked the class after describing what a confession is (mainly to me since I’d never seen the word in Russian before. The title of the day’s story was confession. “Yes, of course. All people are sinners,” the class answered with one voice. “Why?” The response was silence. “Well, what is sin? So we know murder and stealing are sins. What else? LaVena, what do you think?” I answered “envy”.
Gasp! “What? Envy is a sin?” the students asked surprised. “Yes, of course it’s a sin. Do you envy?” “Yeah, sometimes,” answered the students bashfully. After more discussion about what we thought sin was, our teacher continued by reading a story about two sisters who had grown old together, both never having married. The younger of the two was on her death bed even though she was only 56 years old. Her older sister, by 6 years, sat at her bedside and wept. They had only each other their whole lives because, while even though they were both very pretty, the older of the two swore never to marry after her fiancé unexpectedly died just before the wedding. She was only 18 at the time. Her younger sister, seeing how grief-ridden her sister was, swore to her that she, too, would never marry and would be by her side so that she would never be alone. As time went on the younger sister aged more quickly than her older sister. Her hair turned gray much faster and her body was ridden with aches and pains.
On her death bed after the priest had come in to forgive her of her sins, she needed to tell her older sister why she had aged so much faster. She carried with her a dark secret. The younger sister had been in love with her sister’s fiancé and could not bear the thought of him loving and marrying the older sister instead of her. She saw them kiss once and the bliss both had was too much for the little sister. She broke a glass, crushed the shards into powder, and placed the powder in some cream her sister used to make
a pie. The man ate 3 slices and the younger sister 1. He died, she lived. He died because of her childish jealousy. All her life she carried that secret with her and now, on her death bed, she was asking forgiveness from her sister.
The teacher asked, “What do you think? Did theolder sister forgive her younger sister?” All answered, “Yes, of course she
forgave her.” The teacher responded, “Why do you think she forgave her?” The answer from all was that she was family, it was her only sister. She asked me, “Do you think the older forgave her sister? Why do you think she forgave her?” I responded, “Yes because it’s a love between two sisters. It’s a strong love that overcomes all things.”
The teacher finished the story: The older sister leaned over, kissed her sister on the forehead and forgave her.
This story made sense. This story had what all the students knew: Family is there for each other even when things are ugly.