Desert Wisdom: A Long Journey

Fortitude is not only about strength, it is also about endurance.

A hermit went to abba Theodore, complaining about anxiety.  Theodore asked him, “Tell me, how many years have you been a monk?”  He said, “Eight.”  Theodore said, “I’ve been a monk for seventy years, and I’ve not been able to get a single day’s peace.  Do you expect to have peace after only eight years?” (Book Seven, Saying Five)

I hope God will someday enable us to see how much of our spiritual formation was adversely affected by illusions—in this case, the illusion of peace.  I’m not talking about the peace of God, which is one element in the fruit of the Spirit.  I’m talking about the illusion that there is some panacea where everything will be as it should be—a state of mind, a particular location, a specific relationship, etc.  May God give us the fortitude of endurance to stay on the path that will always have some degree of imperfection in it.  We need a spirituality of imperfection (as well as one of perfection), but it takes fortitude to experience it.

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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