St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva speaks of an incident of an attempted suicide of a young woman who was slandered, and the love and providence of God.
The post-war years were very difficult, and people struggled to live. As I said, at that time I was at the Polyclinic. I remember many incidents from that time. Listen to one of them.
Effie was eighteen and lived with her parents and brother during the summer in Bogiati. They had gardens with vegetables and they sold them. One night Effie’s mother sent her to a nearby shop to buy oil for the lamp. Note that at that time there was no electricity. Upon her return home, Effie met a boy on the road, her classmate. They spoke about their lessons. The place they stopped, however, was behind a truck. At that moment the brother of Effie was passing by and he saw them chatting. He over-interpreted this, believing they were chatting with wicked intentions and he told his mother:
“Effie is shaming us,” he said, “she is chatting in the street with a boy.”
When Effie arrived home, her mother punished her very much and beat her. Authorities then were very strict. Effie became very bitter. She rebelled against her unfair treatment and the suspicion of her brother.
The next day her father returned home, having been away. He treated her differently, that is with understanding and in a thoughtful manner.
“I don’t believe these things,” he said to her. “Come, let us go water the garden. You will sit and wherever you see one part of the garden being watered you will tell me and I will go water the other part.”
So it happened. Effie, however, did not sleep at all the previous night. She drowned in her sadness and unfair treatment. Feeling hopeless, she decided to end her life. So at the time she went with her father to the garden, she drew up a plan. She would get some pesticide, and in the evening, after the garden was watered, she would secretly drink it and die. She thought: “Let me see then if they will love me.” Taking the pesticide, she put it in her pocket, and waited for nightfall to drink it. The difficult hour did not take long to come. Her unaware father told her:
“Go to the edge of the garden and shut the water.”
Quickly she went. She was out of sight. No one was around her. Her father was several meters away and as she was running she put her hand in her pocket. At that very moment she heard footsteps. Not having time to move, there appeared before her an unknown priest. He greeted her and said:
“My Effie, you know how beautiful Paradise is! Light, gladness, rejoicing. Christ is all light and scatters gladness and rejoicing to all. He awaits us in the next life, to give us Paradise. Yet there is also a hell, which is all darkness, sorrow, sadness, distress and depression. If you take that which is in your pocket, you will go to hell. Throw it away, therefore, that we may not lose the beauty of Paradise.”
Effie lost it at first, but after a little bit she said to the priest, and, without knowing it, threw away the pesticide:
“Wait here so I can call my father so he can see you.”
She ran into the garden. Amongst the tall corn she became lost, as she went to call her father. Finding him she said:
“Father, come quickly to see a priest who has come to the edge of our garden.”
But when they arrived at the place the priest was supposed to wait for them, no one was there.
For a long time Effie could not explain what happened that night. She could not explain the disappearance of the priest. This caused her to desire to find him again. He saved her life.
Meanwhile, every winter the entire family would come to Athens. Effie would often go to her godmother’s, who was religious, and lived with her for a long while. Her godmother had the habit of receiving into her home and giving hospitality to theologians, priests and monks. One time, therefore, when Effie went to her godmother’s, there was a visitor in the living room. Effie did not know who it was. At one point the godmother came into the kitchen and said to Effie:
“Effie, prepare sweets and coffee and bring them into the living room for the visitor.”
Effie prepared them. She took her time however. As she went her godmother stopped her on time and said:
“Not that plate. Put it on silver, because the visit is official.”
Effie returned to the kitchen, changed the plate, and went to the living room. But what did she see! The plate almost fell from her hands. She saw in front of her the priest who appeared that difficult night in the garden.
“I am Father Porphyrios,” I said with a smile.
This is how I met Effie and since then we have had a close friendship. She had a family with several children. God blessed her. Do you see the ways God operates when He wants to save a person?