Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: Amma Synkletike

“The blessed Synkletike related to the Sisters that, “those who begin the life in God encounter much toil and struggles in the beginning, afterwards, however, finding indescribable joy.

“For,” she said, “just as those who wish to light a fire are at first choked by smoke and their eyes water from the fumes, yet later succeed at their task, so we who wish to light the divine fire within us must know that we will succeed at this only by many struggles and toil; for the Lord also says, ‘I came to cast fire upon the earth, and what else do I wish if the fire be more greatly kindled?’

“Indeed some,” the blessed one continues, “while tolerating the bother and hindrance of the smoke in order to do a little work at the beginning, nonetheless, out of laziness, did not light a fire; for they went away quickly and did not have the forbearance to persist to the end.”

Having spoken about Desert Mothers as well as Desert Fathers, here is the first saying of a Desert Amma.  Not too many of those have been preserved, unfortunately, due to misogyny and sexism of later centuries.  However, we can rejoice in the few Sayings we have from the Desert Ammas because they are good ones.  Such as this one.

The Desert Christians, as far as we know, are the first Christian mystics.  I believe that is what draws me to them. I myself walk the mystic path. The indescribable joy Synkletike speaks of is what Christians in later centuries would call the gift of contemplative union.

In the second paragraph, she talks about how we prepare ourselves to be filled by God. Dedicating ourselves to following Jesus, committing ourselves to be changed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, practicing our faith in various ways such as reading the Bible, praying the Psalms, reading books written by Christian writers, doing what in the past were called good works, doing without the luxuries of life so one can give more to others in need, this is all part of walking the mystic path.  This is creating within one’s a place to entertain God. Please note, I use “entertain” in an old-fashioned sense we hardly even recall is the original use of the word.

From my own experience, I can tell you that investing the discipline to make such things our daily habits, is worth it.

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