wisdom from the desert

wisdom from the desert Add comments

Back in seminary I had come to an end of the road. I had spent years and years listening to and reading the great Christians of our time and the eras before. Yet, it became unsatisfying as I heard the same sorts of things over and over again, plucking mostly at my intellectual side, encouraging me to believe all the right sorts of things. But it wasn’t enough. The storms were too heavy. I was in a wilderness needing water not salt. It was then I made a discovery and at the end of the road a whole new road opened up. I found the writings of men and women who lived in the early centuries and who sought the depths of Christ with a dedication and passion unmatched. It took me a while to find these guides because my tradition is suspect of other traditions. We have a bias towards the wisdom of the familiar and I was taught to be wary of those who lived in earlier times and had other distinctions in their pursuit of Christ. And yet, in reading these texts I realized how the bias I had been taught was likely little more than a whisper of the devil encouraging a poverty of wisdom.

Because when I started reading John Cassian, and then others, I found light and hope and renewal that led me to a new beginning of wisdom and set forth a path in which I could see myself walking down the rest of my life as I seek to take hold of what I can now only barely grasp.

Now, in this present mood of quiet and distance I am again finding comfort in these words and hearing again in the simplicity a wisdom that I need. For the time being, at least, I’m going to post some of these thoughts, hoping that as they edify me maybe someone else will find them helpful.

“When Anthony lived in the desert he was beset by depression and attacked by many sinful thoughts. He said to God, ‘Lord, I want to be saved but these thoughts do not leave me alone; what shall I do in my afflictions? How can I be saved?” A short while afterwards, when he got up to go out, Anthony saw a man like himself sitting at his work, getting up from his work to pray, then sitting down and plaiting a rope, then getting up again to pray. It was an angel of the Lord sent to correct and reassure him. ‘Do this and you will be saved.’ At these words, Anthony was filled with joy and courage. He did this, and he was saved.”

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