6. & 7. Sleeping

The monk woke from having slept two days. Sometimes these moments come in the spiritual life where exhaustion sets in deep, into your bones. You can’t always explain why–sometimes it’s just on faith that you understand somewhere, somehow, you may have taken upon yourself a burden to help someone else. Sometimes those burdens are mysterious, sometimes we are aware of them immediately, sometimes it takes time to understand where the burden came from. Sometimes years.

The monk was thirsty, and took a small drink of water. He took bread. He sat on his bead, took his rosary in hand, began to pray.

In the middle of prayer, the monk heard a voice outside the door of the hermitage. It was not a voice he was familiar with; it was not an unfriendly voice. It asked:

“Are you sleeping comfortably?”

The monk replied, “Yes,” thinking it was the abbot. “I am comfortable enough.”

“Are you in need of anything at all?”

The monk replied, “No, I have all I need.” He realized that it was not the abbot, nor was it a friend, or a fellow monk.

“Alright then.” The stranger left as quickly as he had come, yet there were no sounds of footsteps on the dry earth.

The monk resumed prayer.

A few hours later, as he read scripture, he heard the voice outside his door again.

“Are you resting comfortably?”

The monk replied, “Yes.”

“Are you in need of anything at all?”

“No, I have all I need.”

Again, the steps left. This time, he rose, walked to the door, opened it, and looked out into the desert sunset. He could not see anyone in the valley–the hermitages near his were well enough away, but he could tell the doors were closed. He looked down and saw that the only foot prints were those of the abbot and his own from a few days prior.

The monk closed the door, and returned to prayer.

In the desert, we may find ourselves distracted by what we may feel are well meaning thoughts, practices, teachings. We may find ourselves stirring in our slumber, called to challenge what we know is truth. At times, this is meaningful thinking worth pursuing. But we must be careful that the thinking that we do is not done from self doubt. Recognize where the challenge comes from can be difficult. In those times, return to scripture, prayer, the rosary. Return to the sacraments. Pray for guidance. Dedicate any suffering you may experience, physical, mental, or otherwise, to be united with Christ’s passion. Dedicate it to someone specifically, someone you know is in pain, is suffering.

And do not be afraid of rest when it comes, for God will settle us in hope.

6. & 7. Sleeping

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