Tolstoy has written a small story, not a story really. It is a fact, it happened, an incident.
Tolstoy went one day into the church, early in the morning. It was dark and he was surprised to find that the richest man of the town was praying and confessing before God and saying that he was a sinner. Of course Tolstoy became interested. And he was relating his sins: how he had deceived his wife and had been unfaithful, and how he had been in love relationships and affairs with other women, others’ wives. Tolstoy became intrigued. He came nearer and nearer. And he was relating with much gusto, confessing to God: ”I am a sinner and unless you forgive me there is no way for me. And how I have been exploiting! And how I have been robbing people! I am a sinner and I don’t know how to change myself. Unless your grace descends there is no possibility for me.” And tears were flowing.Then suddenly he became aware that there was somebody else there. He looked. He recognized –by this time the day was dawning – and he became very angry and he said to Tolstoy: ”Remember!
These things I have said to God, not to you. And if you say these things to anybody I will drag you to the court for defaming me. So remember that you have never heard these things. This was a personal dialogue between me and God and I was not aware that you were here.”
A different face before God and a totally different face before the world…