Various things are happening to me all the time. I have diverse and manifold stories to share. They are funny and sad, happy and unusual. There are a host of remarkable, miraculous occurrences and testimonies that we are not alone here, that we are loved by heaven and are cared for.
This event happened in the summer of 2006. I had just returned from a pilgrimage trip to Diveyevo. At that time I developed a strong spiritual bond with St. Seraphim of Sarov. I had especially venerated him before my pilgrimage, though. But that pilgrimage greatly deepened my love for the saint.
So, after the pilgrimage trip I went to see my granny who lived in the Ryazan region.1 The village where she lived had a lovely name: Svezhenkaya (it can be translated as “very fresh”). It lay amid dense forests of the Ryazan region.
It was a hot and dry summer. And it was in July, that is, at the height of the mushroom season2 It should be said that edible mushrooms grew in abundance in that area. Here chanterelles, milk mushrooms, orange-cap boletuses, brown-cap boletuses, honey agarics and annulated (or yellow) boletuses were plentiful. Ugly milk-caps, saffron milk-caps, russules, paxils also grew in large numbers, though we did not pick them. And of course there were our beloved ceps, white mushrooms as we call them.
From my early childhood, from as far back as I can remember, we used to go to the forest to pick mushrooms. While hunting mushrooms, we could walk for dozens and dozens of miles in the forest. And towards the evening, very happy and tired, we would drag our huge woven baskets full of “precious” mushrooms back home.
So, I came to my granny in that summer of 2006. Upon my arrival I only greeted my grandma and at once looked at the forest wistfully, slightly twitching my foot. Realizing that I was thinking about mushrooms permanently, granny said with a smile, “Yes, go to the forest, my dear granddaughter. The only problem is that there are no mushrooms this year. Our villagers have tried to find them, but the hot, dry weather has withered so many of the plants. And so they return with empty baskets each time.”
But I needed no persuasion! I did not care if there were mushrooms or not. At once I took a bucket in my hand and dashed off to the forest. “So long, granny! I will be back soon!”
She replied right before I left, “Maybe you will find some mushrooms, nevertheless. They will be just fine for the period of the Dormition Fast!”
By the way, my granny was a very religious and pious person. She was a great faster and a woman of prayer. She strictly observed absolutely all fasts, whether long or short in duration. She used to put five different types of hot cereals, pancakes, milk, cheese, eggs and cottage cheese on the table in front of us, her grandchildren. As for herself, she was content with very little: only tea and bread.
And during the strict Dormition Fast, mushrooms always helped her out. She would cook a quantity of mushroom soup and that was sufficient for her.
Let us return to my story. Thus I walked in the forest for an hour, two hours—but still with no result. Not a single mushroom! I was exhausted and lost my fervor as a mushroom hunter. I had only one thought in my mind: “How will my beloved granny survive the Dormition Fast? She cannot do without mushrooms!” I felt sorry for her and implored St. Seraphim to help: “Father Seraphim! You lived in the forest and you know the places where mushrooms grow! Show them to me, please! You see that I want them not for myself, but for my granny! How will she live through the fasting period, if there are no mushrooms?!”
And at the same moment I suddenly spotted a white mushroom under a leaf, and then more white mushrooms. And none of them was wormy.
To be brief, I picked mushrooms for half an hour until my bucket was half full and ran back home.
When I got back, granny was amazed and excited. “Oh, my darling! My dear girl! How have you managed to find so many mushrooms?” But I held my tongue.
Early the following morning I darted into the forest again like a whirlwind. I was walking and entreating Father Seraphim to help me once more. I kept “pestering” the saint with my requests. Thus I gathered mushrooms until my pail was half-full and made my way home. Towards the evening I returned to the forest and soon had half a bucket of white mushrooms this time again! Granny couldn’t stop marveling. “How can it be? That is truly an unexpected joy!”
But I kept silence and did not reveal my secret. However, I couldn’t contain myself any longer and on the third day I told her everything. And grandma answered me then, “Oh my granddaughter! Please, don’t go there any more this year. That will be more than enough for me for the period of fasting. Otherwise, it will be a sin. Let us leave the rest of the mushrooms for other people. We shouldn’t be greedy, or Father Seraphim may get angry with us for that!”
I obeyed my granny. She dried the mushrooms and ate them throughout the Dormition Fast, and was very pleased.
Other village residents went to the same forest many times over that summer, but did not find a single white mushroom. It was a dry summer that year and so mushrooms did not grow.
There is a simple explanation for this miraculous event: St. Seraphim loved my granny dearly.