Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: Anonymous

“A young monk confessed with soul-felt pain to one of the Fathers that his thoughts about returning to the world warred against him.

“I purposelessly remain in the desert, Abba. I do nothing and surely I will not be saved.”

“The wise elder answered him: “But even if, my child, we do not anticipate stepping into the promised land, it is of greater benefit to leave our bones here on the desert, than to return to the bondage of Egypt.”

This one puzzled me a bit until I remembered that the Desert Christians believed they had to earn their salvation by a drastic removal from the world, praying the all the Psalms as many times a day as they could, eat barely enough to survive, bathe seldom sleep as little as possible. Yes, as i have said before they were extremists attempting to subdue the desires of the senses, the flesh, and to control their thoughts so that God was all that was on their minds.

This young monk struggled with the extremism and was tempted to renounce it to go back to the cities of Egypt where life would be more comfortable. He knew it for the temptation that it was and chose to remain in the desert, struggling.

What the elder told the younger that even though they might not earn salvation, it is better to walk the path of their form of spiritual life than it was to go back to the cities.

In other words, how one walks the journey is more important than the destination. That’s what I take from this Saying. What do you take from it?

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