10. & 11. The Second Sleep

The monk awoke again from another two days asleep, having dreamed of tight spaces that were difficult to enter, move around in, and exit. Spaces that, upon consideration, made no sense to enter except to provoke anxiety.

The monk knew that the time of temptation was upon him. This is how it started.

Any time one retreats into the desert, one does so not to escape from the world, but to confront the most darkest parts of the self. One leads one’s self into temptation as part of strengthening one’s faith.

He kneeled before the icon of the Blessed Mother in his hermitage, lit the oil lamp, prayed. Today, he would go to the cave where Mass was to be celebrated.

Outside, the desert was hot, pressing down the dust into the ground. The monk opened his door, looked out into the brown landscape waving at him through ripples of heat. He walked to the cedar tree that struggled, twisted around the rock, pushed to the sky, branches open like a prayer for rain. He picked some of the lower branches, brought them into his hermitage, tied and hung them from a beam in the ceiling. In time, they would dry and become fragrant incense to help him focus.

He opened the cupboard and took a piece of bread, drank a little water. The bread was hard in his mouth, stale, yet satisfying.

10. & 11. The Second Sleep

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