Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Desert Wisdom (8)

In the days of the Desert Fathers, a young monk sought out an elder monk who was known for his great holiness. The elder agreed to teach the young man everything he knew about prayer and the spiritual life.

He took the young man to a river and instructed him to immerse himself. The young man did and immediately the older man pushed the young man’s head under the water and held him down. The young man submitted to this for a short time, but then he became frightened that he was going to drown. He began to struggle against the old monk’s grip, fighting for air.

Finally, when the young man thought his lungs would burst, the old man released him. The young man stood up, gasping for air, looking at the old man in astonishment.

The elder monk looked at him calmly. “What did you experience while you were under the water?”

“I thought I was going to die,” he spluttered.

“Why were you going to die?”

The young man was angry. “Old man,” he spat, “I needed to breathe. I came here to learn the ways of God, and of prayer. And instead you tried to murder me!”

“You wanted that breath of air more than anything else?”

“Of course.”

“When you desire God as much as you desired that breath of air, then you will understand.”

graphic: abba-siseos

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