Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Saying of the Desert Christians: Silence 4


Theophilus of holy memory, bishop of Alexandria, journeyed to Scetis and the brethren coming together said to abba Pambo, "Say a word or two to the bishop, that his soul may be edified in this place." The old man replied, "If he is not edified by my silence, there is no hope that he will be edified by my words."

Some thoughts:

Another favorite of mine. At first, I'll be honest, I read it with what were then twentieth century eyes. I read into it with delight the sarcasm that prevails in the culture in which I live. I gleefully thought Pambo was dissing the Bishop and letting him know that Pambo didn't respect someone just because he had a fancy title.

As I have come to love silence more, though, I read this differently, somewhat ashamed of my previous interpretation. Have you ever met a quiet person whose being radiated the love of God? Were you drawn to that person as a moth to a flame? Did something of that peaceful silence stir something deep within you? A desire, maybe, to share that restfulness?

I suspect that is what Abba Pambo meant. I hope that because the collector of the Sayings referred to Theophilus of holy memory that the good bishop was indeed edified by Pambo's silence.


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