Thursday, 27 November 2014

A Season with the Desert Christians

Image: Public domain
Advent is around the corner, a kind of pre-Christmas version of Lent - at least, a time of preparation and reflection, of fasting, of refocusing. At times like this I'm drawn back to the great Desert saints of the early Church who did so much to shape the way we understand and live out our faith in Christ to this day, and whose lives were mostly just so gentle and beautiful.

So for the month between now and Christmas (and yes, I know I'm anticipating Advent by a few days) I'm going to spend some time on this blog giving space for those Desert Christians to speak. Some of their sayings and stories are more well known, like the story of Joseph of Panephysis who encouraged his disciple to go beyond the keeping of a rule of life and to "become fire"! But I want to dwell for a while with some of the less known stories, some of my favourites which speak of their core values: non-judgement, ceaseless prayer, kindness, simplicity, faith ... and more. (The translations in each case are my own.)

If, like me, you find yourself drawn into these sayings, dwell with them. Some days I'll just present the stories and wisdom. Others I may offer a little extra commentary, although there'll be no explanations. If the words puzzle you, that's OK. They're supposed to drop into your mind like a pebble into a pool; relax, let the ripples spread, and wait for that "Aha!" moment when insight comes. Try visiting with Abba Elias first.

Abba Elias once said,
"People turn their minds
either to sin,
or to Jesus,
or to one another."

Which is better? Ah, now then ...!

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