Ancient Spiritual Wisdom From Desert Fathers & Mothers

A certain brother went to Abbot Moses in the Scete and asked him for a good word. And the old sage said to him: Go and abide in your cell: and your cell will teach you everything. (Anonymous)

Everyone sometimes feels lost in the endless landscape of God’s desert. We need a guide, a map, a good or life-giving word. With this question, a brother leaves his cell and sets out on a journey to Scete to meet Abbot Moses. He thinks he has to look outside himself for the answer. He’s probably at a dead end and desperate. With his answer, Abbot Moses seems to be sending him back to where he came from. In fact, he offers his brother all the knowledge he has gained from his long life in the desert. The wisdom of not fleeing: “Go and stay in your cell: and your cell will teach you everything.”

What is this cell that he must return there? It is the space where we are alone with God and where we understand ourselves as God’s conception. In this sense, the cell is not a concrete place, but a meeting space that is itself a journey. It seems as if we are sitting in our cell doing nothing, but in reality we are traveling in the immediacy of a Presence that is in everything and wants to be met in everything. All Abbot Moses has to give his brother is that he must endure the solitude of the cell to come to himself in God.

Where all our questions remain unanswered, where all our desires seem unfulfilled, where we feel lost, there we meet God. The nothingness we experience there is only the bare ground of our existence, broken open by God’s presence and into which the seed of life is sown. For our part, we can do nothing but stand firm, patient, and persevere in this emptiness to let God do his work in us. We have nothing to say about the Life that grows within us. Just as a piece of land has its seasons and cannot come to fruition without a period of lying fallow and sleep, so it is with the human soul that has to wait in silence for God. It is in this silence to ourselves that we come to realize that all our existence takes place in God and that therefore the cell is within us and all around us. Everything that comes our way can only be met in that silence that makes us realize that in everything we live on holy ground. This silence reveals to us the will of the Other who longs for our complete surrender so that He can be completely united with us in love. A cell in which we have the courage to really live this loneliness thus becomes the sacred ground of the encounter that leads to the fullness of intimacy with the Elusive One who shines through everything and everyone.

Source: Ad Montem

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