Church donation box

It is a hot summer day. The girl is visiting her aunt on the countryside. The days are long. Nothing happens during the boring afternoons, and other kids are probably at home, sleeping or eating. Only the shining sun is outside, almost burning her and her ginger cousin’s white pale skin. Not a very common situation, though. This countryside, Kazbegi, located in the northern part of the republic of Georgia, is known for its unendingly cool climate. Temperatures can be as low as five degrees even on summer days.

One hundred meters from the aunt’s house is a gate to the school yard, a former graveyard. Behind the school building is the current graveyard. The school yard unites a football field and a 19th century former graveyard, a spot for older guys to play cards or smoke cigarettes and drink wine. Older girls also gather here and play volleyball. Some of them seem to be talented and strong, some are not. The girl thinks she is not big enough to talk or play with them. In the same field, there is a kindergarten and behind it is a church. A high, rocky mountain borders the southern part of the field. Everything is so familiar here, everything is so relatable and dear.

Attending the Sunday prayer is a regular part of the girl’s life during her summer time of staying at her aunt. This is not a common practice in her city life. The girl and her cousin play in the church yard for a while and then move to cover themselves in the shadow of the building. She has been in the church many times before, but visiting there alone with her cousin was a whole new experience.

They go to the altar, even though in the Orthodox Christian church it is strictly forbidden for women to go there. They open the divine color curtains covering the altar from the rest of the building, go inside and observe every single icon from a very close distance. After investigating the altar they check the rest of the church. On the right side of the entrance a very short table covered with a grey table-cloth is standing with a wooden box placed on top.

Candles, some coin money and a five lari bill (Georgian currency) are inside the box. The girl and her cousin are amazed to discover such a treasure. They collect it all from the table and are excited about handing it to aunt Maja. The happy smiles on their face are replaced by confusion and disappointment as they listen to the aunt’s reaction upon seeing the money: “Why did you take my money without asking me?!” The children, who were still feel innocent explain from where they took the treasure. They would have never thought that a good and helpful action could cause such trouble for them. Aunt Maja gets even angrier once she hears the money was taken from the church.It seems like not a smart idea to get the money from there, giving it to the adult and saying where it came from.

The girl always loved staying with her over night during the summer, but this time she was very glad Maja wasn’t her mom and didn’t have much right to punish her, because her father was there. As such, she raised her voice only in front of her own son. It was not for the girl. There was her father to take care of that. She felt ashamed, as what had appeared to be a good idea had unexpectedly turned out to be wrong, and she could not anticipate how her strict father would react to it. He did not seem as nervous and angry as aunt was. It was his first serious adult talk with her. He probably explained that this behaviour was not acceptable and taking someone’s money was not something a good child would do. The girl did not know that this was a sinful behavior. She was ready to return back others' things, so she held a hand to her father, went back to the church and left the money there.

Later on, as the years passed, she kept attending Sunday prayers in the Church. Mom insisted and she also realized, breaking the rules was something to confess about, presumably. She went to the priest and told her the story of taking the money from the box. The priest asked if she felt sorry. She said “yes”, but since then she always thought that she was lucky to enter the altar in her childhood, because she would not dare to do it as an adult. She has never thought of taking someone else’s money ever since!