In December of 1849, twenty-eight-year-old Fyodor Dostoevsky received a Christmas gift which was to shape his heart and inform his writing for the rest of his life. Next in line to be tied to a stake and shot by firing squad, Fyodor received a last-minute reprieve from the czar. He later wrote to his brother “There are few things left now that can frighten me.”
Love, grace, and courage are connected by gratitude, and gratitude isn’t possible absent a sense of want. We don’t truly value something until we have lost it, and if that lost thing is ever redeemed, we seldom take it for granted again. It is in the ashes of this harrowing carnage that compassion is born and the capacity for real love is nourished.