The woman answered: “You remind me, Zosima, of what I dare not speak of. For when I recall all the dangers which I overcame, and all the violent thoughts which confused me, I am again afraid that they will take possession of me.” Zosima said: “Do not hide anything from me; speak to me without concealing anything.” She said to him: “Believe me, Abba, seventeen years I passed in this desert fighting wild beasts – mad desires and passions… But when such desires entered me I struck myself on the breast and reminded myself of the vow which I had made, when going into the desert. In my thoughts I returned to the Icon of the Mother of God which had received me and to her I cried in Prayer. I implored her to chase away the thoughts to which my miserable Soul was succumbing. And after weeping for long and beating my breast I used to see Light at last which seemed to shine on me from everywhere. And after the violent storm, lasting calm descended.
“And how shall I tell you, O Abba, of the thoughts that pushed me towards lust once more? A fire was kindled in my miserable heart which seemed to burn me up completely and to awake in me a thirst for embraces. As soon as this craving came to me, I flung myself on the earth and watered it with my tears, as if I saw before me my witness, who had appeared to me in my disobedience, and who seemed to threaten punishment for the crime. And I did not rise from the ground (sometimes I lay thus prostrate for a day and a night) until a calm and sweet light descended and enlightened me and chased away the thoughts that possessed me. But always I turned to the eyes of my mind to my Protectress, asking her to extend help to one who was sinking fast in the waves of the desert. And I always had her as my Helper and the Accepter of my repentance. And thus I lived for seventeen years amid constant dangers. And since then even till now the Mother of God helps me in everything and leads me as it were by the hand.”
“I struggled with various afflictions and temptations. But from that time until the present day, the power of God has guarded my sinful Soul and humble body. I was fed and clothed by the All-Powerful Word of God, since man does not live by bread alone, but by every word proceeding from the mouth of God… When I remember from what evil and from what sins the Lord delivered me, I have imperishable food for Salvation.”