I love this quote from Tolstoy. So much has been written about love by poets, songwriters and those who are head over heels in love, but this is the first reference to “throwing out an adhesive web of love” that I have ever read. Like the Apostle Paul, Tolstoy had an amazing transformation that made it plain to him that he had missed the boat in his life. He was a successful Russian writer of great aclaim, but his life was empty. He experienced a depression during which he questioned everything about his life and the life of all mankind. His entire system of beliefs seemed to crumble right before him, and it almost killed him. In order to survive and reorder his belief system, he held tight to one belief – that God existed. For him, it was the only thing that gave meaning to life. Many others have shared his struggle. Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said it this way, “The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do: the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die.” For Tolstoy the truth was that God existed and was manifested in love.
Tolstoy received much critisism after his conversion experience, and many doubted his sincerity. However, if you have read “The Death of Ivan Ilych,” which was his first work after his conversion, I don’t think you could have much doubt that he truly experienced a spiritual awakening. For me, it is in every page of the story in a way that I don’t believe could be written by anyone that had not come to a truthful understanding of what is valuable in our lives. In the above quotation, he lays it out for us – it is love. That is what brings real joy and happiness. He discovered these truths toward the end of his life, but not too late for him to experience true love and not too late for his readers to understand the value in life by reading “The Death of Ivan Ilych.” If you are searching for the meaning in your life, give it a try. Read the book. You have nothing to lose.