Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sandal upon sand

Here in the Mojave the afternoons have been warm (80F) and the nights have suddenly cooled down, in the mid 40s, too cool for sleeping outdoors in my hammock, but each night brings us closer to those wonderful winter night skies when the Milky Way's boldness is a sight to behold. This morning at the break fast table Bro. Juniper shared some of his recent studies of the Desert Fathers, this a wonderful story told by Isaac from Syria (7th Century). It reminds us that we are the sailors of the desert, we walk the ancient seabeds, sandal upon sand, oasis to oasis, our course charted by the Word ... and prayer.

"When a sailor voyages in the midst of the sea, he watches the stars and in relation to them he guides his ship until he reaches harbor. But a monk watches prayer, because it sets him right and directs his course to that harbor toward which his discipline should lead. A monk gazes at prayer at all times, so that it might show him an island where he can anchor his ship and take on provisions; then once more he sets his course for another island. Such is the voyage of a monk in this life: he sails from one island to another, that is, from knowledge to knowledge, and by his successive change of islands, that is, of states of knowledge, he progresses until he emerges from the sea and his journey attains to that true city, whose inhabitants no longer engage in commerce but each rests upon his own riches. Blessed is the man who has not lost his course in this vain world, on this great sea! Blessed is the man whose ship has not broken up and who has reached harbor with joy!
--Isaac from Syria

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