Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sayings of the Desert Christians: Abba John the Dwarf 4


Some brethren came one day to test him to see whether he would let his thoughts get dissipated and speak of the things of this world. They said to him 'We give thanks to God that this year there has been much rain and the palm trees have been able to drink, and their shoots have grown, and the brethren have found manual work.' Abba John said to them, 'So it is when the Holy Spirit descends into the hearts of men; they are renewed and they put forth leaves in the fear of God.'

Some thoughts:

It seems mean to lay a trap for another person, does it not? What motivated them? Meanness? Curiosity? Wonder that someone could truly fix his thoughts on God 100% of the time? What a good test. The monks out there in the desert would be dependent on the weather and they needed work in order to buy food. How much time do we spend talking about the weather and our jobs? Important stuff.

Look at John's answer. It is a wonderful comparison with the rain and the Holy Spirit. How is that John is able to make that connection instead of responding in kind? It's as if his silent meditation is something more the absence of words. It's as if his silence is more like an attitude, intention or habit of his heart. His hermitage is not merely his physical surroundings. His true hermitage is his heart and so he takes his hermitage and his silence with him wherever he goes. He has learned to create silence within by doing without all the inward chatter.

I read a great book on this very subject a number of years ago: _Hermitage of the Heart_ by a Carthusian monk. I recommend it to all. Also if you are able to find it, _The Call of Silent Love_ by a Carthusian monk. "A Carthusian monk" is listed as the name of the authors on my copies. These books are part of the Carthusian Novice Series.


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