The Desert Fathers in the 3rd to the 5th century, following the tradition of Elijah, Moses, and John the Baptist, fled to the silence of the desert to purify their hearts in order to see God. Ultimately, they sought to save the world, and the church, from idolatry. Their wisdom has endured almost 2000 years. The next time you are criticized or slandered, remember these words from Abba John: “One day when he was sitting in front of the church, the brethren were consulting him about their thoughts. One of the old men who saw it became a prey to jealousy and said to him, ‘John, your vessel is full of poison.’ Abba John said to him, ‘That is very true, abba; and you have said that when you see only the outside, but if you were able to see the inside, too, what would you say then?’ How very true.
I have spoken way too many words in my prayers to God over the years. Fortunately, as C.S.Lewis reminds us, God retains the power and to refuse our prayers, knowing now easily we could destroy ourselves (God in the Dock, pp.106-107). Do not be quick with your mouth…God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few (Eccl.5:2). And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words (Matt. 6:7). I will stand at my watch and station myself at the ramparts; I will look to see what He will say to me (Habbakuk 2:1). Proverbs reminds us that even a fool is thought wise if he is silent. I am beginning to realize this applies to talking with Him as well.
I received a letter recently that I wrote to myself after a 3 day retreat over seven months ago. It reminded me again that I am the most difficult person for me to lead! The following are a few rich nuggets of gold from this short letter: 1. Remember what you are all about. (In my case, it was to take 30-50% of my time to write). 2. Guard your spirit from trifles, fast from overconsuming, and forget what others think. (See “The Woodcarver” story). 3. Feel your own weight and density. There is no need to wear other people’s faces (See the poem, “Now I Become Myself”). 4. Go to the fields and be lovely. Come back when you are through with blooming. (See the poem entitled, “Camas Lillies). 5. Stay the course and be kind to yourself. For a free sermon I preached on what it means to live a life where. Read more.