The monk woke again from a deep, deep sleep. He admonished himself for having dozed so long once again. The heat of the desert, the quiet of the room, the drowsiness of the day impacted his ability to stay awake.
The monk, however, was aware that he did not dream.
He set about to get food and drink; the bread in his cupboard had gone stale, but it was good enough. The water in his pitcher, also stale, but somehow that didn’t matter. There was nourishment in it, the taste of the bread improved as he chewed.
He looked out at the dark sky of the desert. One who looked like a fellow monk stood before him, holding a loaf of fresh bread.
“Did you rest well,” asked the temptor.
“I rested too much,” said the monk.
“You are eating.”
“Yes, I am eating now.”
“Your bread is too hard. Your water is stale. Here, I bring you fresh bread and wine. Come out of your hermitage, eat with me.”
The monk considered. It had been a long time since he had drank wine. Fresh bread was softer in the mouth.
“Yes, my bread is softer than yours. And wine tastes sweet to the mouth that is dry, and thirsts.”
The monk, realizing the temptation before him had perceived his thoughts without the monk revealing them to him, said:
“Begone, temptation. If I call on the Blessed Mother and the Archangel Michael, they will defend me.”
“I am not afraid of them,” said the temptation.
The monk stopped, stunned at this. Was this a deception? He looked into his heart.
Suddenly, he remembered the old abbot, the day of the embrace, his kind guiding words, his admonitions.
The monk stood, came to the door, and prayed for the intercession of the Blessed Mother and Saint Michael.
The temptation cowered. His bread turned to a skull; the wineskin that hung behind him shifted on his shoulder, moved forward to reveal a rotting animal, a snake intertwined around it. The temptation cowered, walked down the mountain.
The monk returned to his cell, knelt in prayer, resolving to remain awake.