A Parable of an Old Man#

An old man was sitting in his 'cell' (a hut or a cave where the desert monks lived) and a voice came to him which invited:

come and I will show you the works of men.

He rose up and followed. The voice led him to a certain place and showed him an Ethiopian cutting wood and making a great pile. In vain he struggled to carry it. But instead of taking some off, he cut more wood and added to the pile. This he repeated for a long time.

Going on a little further, the old man was shown a man standing on the shore of a lake drawing up water. He poured the water into a broken receptacle so that the water ran back into the lake. Then the voice said to the old man:

come and I will show you something else.

He saw a temple and two men on horseback, opposite one another, carrying a piece of wood crosswise. They sought to go in through the door but could not because they held the piece of wood crosswise. Neither of them would draw back before the other, so as to carry the wood straight; so they remained outside the door. The voice said to the old man:

These men carry the yoke of righteousness with pride, and do not humble themselves so as to correct themselves and walk in the humble way of Christ. So, they remain outside the Kingdom of God. The man cutting the wood is he who lives in many sins, and instead of repenting he adds more faults to his sins. He who draws the water is he who does good deeds, but mixing bad ones with them he spoils even his good works. So everyone must be watchful of his actions, lest he labor in vain.#

Let these words of memory be recorded upon the headstones of those long righteous and aged in years:

True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found upon his lips. He walked with Me in peace and uprightness and turned many from sin. (Malachi 2:6)

Today's Soul Snippet:

'Repetition dulls the mind as comfort dulls the soul.

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#Benedicta Ward (translator), The Sayings of the Desert Fathers ~ (Kentucky Cistercian Publications, 1984), 15-16