“A desert elder set off for the nearest village to sell his baskets. On the road that he was going down, the devil found him and, out of the intense malice he had toward the elder, snatched the baskets from his hands and disappeared. The elder, without being at all upset, raised his eyes to heaven and said, “I thank you, my God, that you have relieved me of my burden and the trouble of going down to the village.” Then the devil, not suffering the calmness of the hermit, threw the baskets in his face, shouting: “Take them back, old man.”
“The monk gathered them up again and continued on his way to the village.”
The Desert Christians wove mats and baskets in their huts while they prayed the Psalms. And dealing with the distractions to their prayers. Every once in a while, they would take their baskets to sell them to get a little food: flour, olive oil, dates. Very simple, vegetarian fare.
If on the way to selling their baskets and mats, someone stole them, then that meant there would be no money to purchase what little groceries they allowed themselves. One might think that a person, even a monk, would be distressed at the loss of the ability to buy food.
Not this monk. This monk is able to do something so profoundly wonderful that I long to know how to learn to do it myself. He gives thanks. He finds a way to turn what some might consider a serious problem into something for which to be grateful. He had a choice when the bad thing happened. He could have cursed and ranted and raved at the injustice, the unfairness, how he was going to be hungry and do without food until he had woven some baskets.
He didn’t. He embraced gratitude.