Desert Wisdom: Watching Our Hearts

We begin a brief look into Book Two of the Verba Seniorum—a section devoted to the theme of “Quiet.”

When the early Christian mothers and fathers spoke of “quietness,” they not only meant the silence which comes when outer noise is removed, they also meant the quietness which must come to the heart to prevent it from giving in to restlessness.

Abba Antony used the illustration of a fish to describe the cultivation of this interior silence.  He pointed out that fish die if they stay on dry land, so “as a fish must return to the sea, so must we to our cell, in case by staying outside we forget to watch inside.” (DF, II. 1)

If Antony thought people in his day were bombarded by too many external distractions, what in the world would he say to us today!  We can only speculate, but we can be sure that he would urge us to find times and places to withdraw from the unceasing stimulations that come to our senses from the world around us—stimulations which eventually draw our hearts away from the things of God.

If we are going to survive in the age of “over stimulation,” we must know where the Off-Switch is on all our gadgets.  We must create and spend time in our cells (quiet places).

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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