Saved from Icy Death
"I was in exile. It was a hungry year. The work was very, very hard. There was nothing to eat. Absolutely nothing. And it was a harsh, grey winter. Transportation was stopped, and deliveries ended. We were completely hungry and cold for several days, and to make matters worse, the temperatures dropped to forty below. Birds froze in flight. And the rags we wore . . . Many of my brothers fell; they lost their strength and couldn’t walk. I was also getting ready to die from hunger and cold.
"We spent the night in separate huts—tiny, shabby ones. We stuffed the window with rags. There was snow on the floor—it blew in through the cracks. The door was half-open. A whole mass of ice had frozen on it.
"There was a cold wind. I lay there, wrapped in rags. The frost crept up and turned my whole body to ice. Suddenly, I wanted to sleep, badly. I knew perfectly well—that is the herald of death. Had I dozed off but a little . . . that’s all, I would not have risen for ages. Rising with all my strength, I decided to pray for the last time to St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. "O God-pleaser," I said to him, "I’m dying. You see everything. You are the quick helper, so come and help me." I don’t remember what happened after that, what I said or didn’t say—I don’t remember. I only heard a loud knocking at the door. I opened it. There was a strong gust of wind and cold snow smacked my face. There was no one there.
"But what was this? There were fresh footprints going from the door. I looked on around the corner . . . A large sack was standing there, and the snow had not yet covered it. My God, what sort of phantom was this? I looked around again for tracks. They went off in the direction of the forest. Not a soul anywhere around—only the snowstorm gathering strength.
"I took the sack. It was heavy. I took it inside the hut and opened it . . . My dear children! . . . " the elder began to sob. "There were fresh loaves of bread in the sack. And they were still warm, absolutely hot! As if they had just taken them out of the oven. But what oven could be there?! There wasn’t a single home within fifty versts, only exiles and prisoners.
"Well, we lived on this bread a whole week. When the snowstorms quieted they brought us rations, and no one died then. In other camps, we heard, many froze in that storm. But none of ours froze. Wonderworker Nicholas, save us! . . . "
From Orthodox Christianity, Pravoslavie.ru/OrthoChristian.com, December 19, 2011