Natasha Turns it Around

Day 238 of A Year of War and Peace

Something has happened to Natasha. Today, bored and listless as the Rostov house scrambles in preparation to flee Moscow, she cannot settle on how best to assist in the process. You’ll recall, way back on Day 137, the way she behaved the last time she was bored at home. In short, she was an immature disgrace. She lorded about the estate sending the servants off on asinine domestic projects of no value other than to provide her some personal amusement. Not so today. Her spiritual awakening under the tutelage of Agrafena Ivanovna Belova has stirred something selfless in her heart. Today Natasha serves rather than commands.

It’s a simple enough scenario, really. The French are coming. The Russians are leaving. The Rostovs are rushing to join their fellow compatriots in retreat. Natasha, unsure of how best to be of use, sees that wounded soldiers, collected on carts like so much discarded produce, has stopped in the streets outside. She doesn’t hesitate to offer assistance, opening her home to the wounded men.

Keep in mind what’s happening right now. The Rostov’s are in peril. They should have already left Moscow. The French will soon be upon them. They really don’t have time to be doing anything other than getting out of Moscow. Instead, with Natasha taking the lead, they help these poor soldiers.

It’s easy and effortless to be kind and helpful when blessed by times of ease and comfort. To be selfless during times of danger, however, takes courage and virtue.


So does this misfortune prevent you in any way from being just, generous, sober, reasonable, careful, free from error, courteous, free, etc. — all of which together make human nature complete?

Epictetus, Fragments

This is the two hundred and thirty eighth installment in a daily, yearlong, chapter-by-chapter reading devotional and meditation on Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. For more information on this project please read the introduction to the series here.

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