3 & 4. First Days in the Desert

A monk entered the desert to fast. The first day, he considered his piety. He considered what his sacrifice would accomplish, and he went to sleep for the entire day. A spider walked across his face, paused on his eye. He opened the other to greet it, then went back to sleep.

On the second day, a visitor arrived to greet him. A fellow monk who could not stay in his hermitage. He was hospitable to this monk, speaking to him briefly but cordially. He reminded the monk of the importance of staying within his hermitage as the devil was prowling, waiting to devour the wayward. The fellow monk left and did not return, leaving the desert.

On the third day, the monk looked out his cell and saw dew on the cobwebs around his hermitage. Dew in a place of dryness. He was reminded of his thirst, and wandered to find water. Coming upon a spring, he took two sips from his hand, found his thirst unsatisfied, and returned to his hermitage. He was filled with regret.

On the fourth day, the devil came to the door of the hermitage like a whisper, and reminded him of his hunger. The whisper entered deeply into his soul, blowing the monk like a dry blade of grass in a fall wind, consuming him like a fire. The monk cried out to God, weeping like a child, recalling not just his hunger but the pain of his many years prior to the monastery.

The evening of the fourth day, the abbot came to his cell. Seeing his tears, the abbot without words embraced him, lending him strength. The monk returned the embrace, returned to his prayers stronger for the tears.

We question now when we reach out for convenience.

We pause when we consider ease, recognizing we have entered a time of restraint and self denial.

We are four days in the desert.

There may have been temptations beginning within us that we have had to work hard to resist, or they may be building slowly. This is not just a time of reflection and restraint, of prayer and fasting. This is a time when we go to battle with the baser elements of ourselves.

3 & 4. First Days in the Desert

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