Places of Strength

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Анна Леонтьева

In our tumultuous, unpredictable world, I believe it's crucial to have places where you feel calm and unworried. It's not so much about physical spaces but rather situations where you can unwind, rest your soul, and find joy. Places where, as they say, you can "let go." It's where your tormented soul sheds its fears, spreads its wings, and takes flight, even if just for a moment. I embarked on a quest to find these places when I sensed my inner strength starting to wane. I thought to myself, if I can clearly define when I feel at peace and in flight, where I feel "at home" — then all I need to do is recharge more often. Maybe it's nature? Yes, I love escaping the city, but I tend to carry my problems and worries even into the most beautiful sunset or majestic pine forest. That's why when I go for a walk, I always have my headphones on, tuned to an interesting lecture or audiobook. I can't handle the silence with nature and with myself; I drown out the quiet with information. So, what then?

It turns out, there are just four states that make me feel calm and absolutely carefree.

The first is the church. There was a period when life was so terrifying that I stopped sleeping at night and couldn't bring myself to attend liturgy and partake of the Eucharist, only receiving communion during nighttime holiday services. But where I lived, the church stood right in the park on a hill, and I physically felt myself entering the all-night vigil — my heart stopped its whining and crying, my mind cleared. It was a distinct sensation not only of the soul but also of the body. I didn't stop walking the hills; I couldn't afford to stop, or I would have been lost. I kept going to our church all the time. To sit. To listen to vespers. To warm myself by the icons. To look at the parishioners — healthy-hearted, happy, full of faith and hope. And it was contagious. I begged... That period is behind me now; I can wake up in the morning for service and go to Communion — to cling to this purest source!

The second is when I'm with my children. When we all gather to have dinner, take a walk, discuss family matters, or celebrate together. In those moments, I become a happy mother: look at my wonderful children, joyful, intelligent, kind, funny. We have plenty of problems, but I'm so grateful to God: what amazing children I have! Remember the joke: "Of course, all children are brilliant. But OURS are TRULY brilliant!"...

I look at my children and simply rejoice; unnecessary thoughts fade away, I live in those moments, eagerly awaiting them, recharging.

The third is, strangely enough, the gym. Perhaps because it's such a familiar place for me; I started exercising after my third child, a quarter of a century ago, when I no longer fit into my clothes. I got used to workouts; they drive away unwanted thoughts and remind me of that period in my life when everything was simple and secure. Well, and of course, exercise heals in itself.

And the fourth place of strength is my work. Amazing things happen in the radio studio. Sometimes I come here barely alive — there's too much responsibility, too much is slipping out of control, and on top of it all, I'm a very anxious person. And then, the heroes come to the program — amazing people: founders of charitable organizations, parents of special needs children, parents of many children who, unlike me, manage to accomplish so much for others, and of course, priests, whom it's not just pleasant to listen to — just sitting next to them is healing. And then I find myself leaving work on wings, healed and full of strength, what a miracle, what a mystery!

So, now that I know my healing sources, everything becomes simple: all I need to do is cling to them more often: gather my family, come to church, work out more often, and work more! And strength will increase, and worries will dissipate, at least for a while.

Simple, isn't it? But how important it is! I really hope my thoughts will help someone find their "places of strength" on the map of life...


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