by Jeff Skeens
This past Sunday evening we gathered together with various churches, denominations, ministries, ethnicities, and generations. To say it was beautiful would be an understatement. It was so utterly normal and unimpressive on so many human levels, but the message this gathering shouted reverberated throughout my soul. It shook the heavens. It defied cultural norms. It was a corrective to the usual Christian gathering.
Each church/ministry/ethnicity/gender was able to contribute to our time of worshiping Jesus. Multiple gifts were exchanged. Blessings were offered. Confessions were made. And the Lord's table brought us together as one broken body. All this was done on a Sunday night when some families were stressed trying to get there, others sacrificed other routines, and a night at home to rest alone or with friends and family was forsaken.
The inconvenient exchange was a night to display the brining together of diverse peoples and beliefs, a foretaste of the "every tongue, every tribe, every nation" reality that is proclaimed in the book of Revelations. It was beautiful, but disrupting of rhythm and comfort, and as we all worshipped together, I couldn't help but to reflect on the way in which we've formed our typical weekly worship experiences.
We live in a culture that is fairly homogenous (ethnically, denominationally, generationally, etc.) when it comes to Christian worship. Some say we've splintered the table of the Lord into little pieces, and each Sunday we partake, we are only getting scraps compared to what God intended to offer his people. I'm not sure about that, but I do know we've been divided over the Lord's table, and as the words of a good friend once said, " It's not our table to divide." Some will read this and begin to defend their church, or stance, etc. My point isn't to stir up a defense, but to call us to something altogether different than what we're normally used to.
I'm reading a book by James K.A. Smith entitled You Are What You Love. In this new book, he shares a short vignette about the polar expedition of the USS Jeanette in the late 1800's. The whole mission was established on a faulty map and false visions of what the Arctic was really like. In short, the ship and crew got stuck in polar ice, only to break free months later and eventually parish in the cruel Arctic. After this vignette he writes this:
"We become misdirected and miscalibrated--not because our intellect has been hijacked by bad ideas but because our desires have been captivated by rival visions of flourishing... this contest of cultural practices is a competition for your heart... More precisely, at stake in the formation of your loves is your religious and spiritual identity, which is manifested not only in what you think or what you believe but in what you do – and what those practices do to you." 22
It's my opinion that our ideas of church and how we form as corporate entities have been terribly misguided by cultural homogenous norms. What we do and how the practices of what we do actually affects us is not fully known. But what we do know is that we are changed by the habits we have in life. What we believe to be the way life is supposed to be is made known to us by how we behave, who we gather with, and the things we make time for. What we love shines brightly in our thought life and in the way we organize our social world.
To say we love diversity and unity and are “All for it!”, yet have little to no experiences of eating, praying, worshiping with those who are radically different from us, is to prove that we “like” the idea of diversity and unity, but we do not “love” it. We are not committed to it. We make time for the things we love. We sacrifice other good things to ensure our “loves” get primary time in our lives.
This is precisely why a worship gathering with those who love Jesus and are of various ethnicities, tribes, denominations, and generations is a corrective voice to our typical way of living. These gatherings stimulate our prophetic imaginations. This is why an evening like last Sunday is worth the inconvenience, discomfort, or any awkwardness you may have while joining a gathering like this.
We've had many cultural practices that compete for our hearts, our loves. And if diversity and unity isn't an intentional part of our lives, it will be left out every time, and we will either admit we don't really love it, or will make excuses as to why diversity and unity aren't a major part of our Christian worship.
What are you calibrated to? What is it that you love? Be slow to answer these questions. Take a life survey of the last month before you answer. Who do you hang out with? Who do you worship and pray with most? What's your church look like? Does your church intentionally connect with other ethnicities and denominations? Or are the gathering mostly a single local church focus? What events are promoted in your tribe?
I hope you can admit with me that we can do better, that we have work to do. We have some decisions to make and some things to consider sacrificing for the sake of glueing the splintered table of the Lord back together, metaphorically of course. And we need to be able to do this in humility without pointing the finger; offer a voice of correction, YES... start accusing certain people, churches and movements, NO. Look around you. Who's crossing the aisles, joining other tribes, carving out space to do life together with those who are different than they are?
Join them, but don't leave your church. Invite others from your tribe to join you. Be a change maker, a trendsetter. Make it attractive and mainstream to be uncomfortable and uncommitted to homogenous worship gatherings and leadership teams. We need new normals, and I know that our time this past Sunday night was one of many of gatherings that have already been laboring towards this end. I pray for more to come and for a flood of professed Jesus lovers to welcome inconveniences for the sake of diversity and unity.
by Tim smith
In your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. -1 Peter 3:15-17
In today’s Scripture the apostle Peter is writing at a time Christians are being rounded up, tortured and killed, and a short while before he is crucified by Nero. Yet in such a hopeless time Peter is encouraging Christians to be ready to answer any who ask them to “give an account of the hope that is in you.” Peter knows that in the midst of fiery trials Christians radiate such hope that others will be left scratching their heads and wanting an explanation.
Followers of the crucified Lord have always been marked by hope and a lively expectation of good things to come. In fact, the apostle Paul told how hope, along with faith and love, are the three things that last, that endure (1 Corinthians 13:13). Hope has never been an optional extra for the people of God. In fact God commands the obedience of hope because of the great promises He has given to us. We live daily in the confident expectation that God always keeps His word!
Hope takes our faith turned towards God in the past (the Cross and the Resurrection), and turns it towards the future. The New Testament Greek word for hope, elpis, signifies the confident, assured expectation that God will do just as He has promised. A Christian’s hope for the future is very different from what the world usually thinks of as hope. Christian hope is no wishful, will-o’-the-wish, elusive desire without any assurance attached to it. It’s not like the man who “hopes” to catch a big fish (Ask any fisherman if that works!). Rather, Christian hope is rather rock solid because it is founded on the God in whom we have placed our hope. It is as good as God’s character and integrity.
Consider but a few of many Scriptures that bolster our hope for the future. We have a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3); a “steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into heaven” (Hebrews 6:19); “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:17). Our hope is the confident expectation to forever share in the very life and glory of God!
On those days when I am feeling discouraged and less than hopeful, I like to turn to two sources that always fill the Christian with hope. First, I turn to God’s Word, given to fill us with hope:
Romans 15:4: “For whatever was written in the former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.”
The apostle Paul is writing to Christians about the “encouragement” that the Scriptures give us, as they are intended that “we might have hope.” The Scriptures Paul has in mind are the Old Testament Scriptures, as the New Testament is still in the making. But stories of God’s faithfulness and goodness to an Abraham, a Moses, or a Sarah, stir hope within us for the future. We turn our faith in God toward the past and direct it to our future.
Second, I turn a few verses down the page where Paul tells how the Holy Spirit fills Christians with hope: Romans 15:13: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
We turn to the Holy Spirit, and to the Holy Scriptures, that we “may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” In difficult, trying times, I cannot turn on hope within me. But the Holy Spirit and His Scriptures can!
Ponder what the great theologian Karl Barth said concerning our Christian hope:
“Where there is the great hope, necessarily there are the small hopes for the immediate future…It is certainly in these many little hopes that the Christian lives from day to day if he really lives in the great hope…He does not fail and is never weary to live daily in these little hopes.”
-(Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV. 1).
Grace and peace, and yes, hope – daily!
Tim Smith is a friend of Apprenticeship to Jesus and leads a ministry called WATER from ROCK. To learn more click here
by Ryan Thurman
This is the second in a series of writings aimed at honoring God and those who have impacted my life. The first writing was about George Miley and you can read it here
In 1998 I left a secure and very well-paying job, as a UPS driver and entered into vocational ministry with Young Life. This was a huge decision on many levels, not least, that I would be decreasing my salary by 75%. I would also have to trust God to provide this reduced salary through the gifts of God’s people. This was a crucial season for me. I knew this path would lead to a life of wonder and adventure with God but I also knew it would be challenging and require a deep work of healing and maturing in my heart.
I was just beginning to explore spiritual practices such as solitude, silence, and fasting and I was intimidated and excited all at the same time. This led me to Merciful Heart Hermitage in Black Canyon City. I was alone in the middle of nowhere, wondering how I was going to make it through a 24 hour silent retreat. I was hoping that my 'sacrificial' fasting would usher in a mystical experience with God but instead I was just hungry and irritable. Fortunately I had as my guide a catholic priest and author Henri Nouwen. He wasn’t actually with me, that would have been amazing, but I had one of his books, the Way of the Heart.
His writings helped guide me in my journey of knowing God in a personal way. Henri’s honesty and simplicity was so revolutionary for me. His passion to experience the love of God and allow that love to define and direct every aspect of his life was compelling. Henri helped me learn to pray, by sharing his own struggles with prayer and I began to see this active wrestling with God was itself the most authentic form of prayer. Henri wrote:
"Why, O Lord, is it so hard for me to keep my heart directed toward you? Why do the many little things I want to do, and the many people I know, keep crowding into my mind, even during the hours that I am totally free to be with you and you alone? Why does my mind wander off in so many directions, and why does my heart desire the things that lead me astray? Are you not enough for me? Do I keep doubting your love and care, your mercy and grace? Do I keep wondering, in the center of my being, whether you will give me all I need if I just keep my eyes on you? Please accept my distractions, my fatigue, my irritations, and my faithless wanderings. You know me more deeply and fully than I know myself. You love me with a greater love than I know myself. You even offer me more than I can desire. Amen”
Henri left a very successful career at Harvard Divinity School to move to the L’arche community, first in Trosly, France and then to Daybreak in Canada. There he served as a priest to six disabled people and their assistants. He was among people who had never read his books, nor cared how well he could lecture or preach but instead only cared if he loved them, simply by being with them. Philip Yancey who got to know Henri over the years wrote this about him:
For me, a single image captures him best: the energetic priest, hair in disarray, using his restless hands as if to fashion a homily out of thin air, celebrating an eloquent birthday Eucharist for an unresponsive child-man so damaged that many parents would have had him aborted. A better symbol of the incarnation, I can hardly imagine
Henri Nouwen not only helped me go deep with God but also began the process of leading me to repent of my sinful attitudes I had about Catholics. Before receiving the gift of Henri's insights into the spiritual life, I had a belief system that Catholics were not 'real' christians and needed to be converted and become Protestants like me. I was so wrong! Henri helped open the door to me to receive the spiritual gifts of the Historic Church, like the writings of the Church Fathers, Monastic Spirituality and the beauty of liturgy.
This has not only changed my spiritual life but has formed in me a passion and calling to see the Body of Christ, that is now so divided, take seriously the prayer of Jesus, "that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me."
The time is now dear friends to cross over the lines that have been drawn and to break down walls that separate us as Christians and stand united together in support of our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted and together dispense the grace and living water of Jesus to a desperate world. It begins with little steps by learning to make friends, pray and serve with others outside of your own church and tradition and learn to experience an ‘exchange of gifts.’ This exchange happens when we learn to emphasize the best of the different traditions, and share what we have received from God, and also receive the gifts that God has placed in others.
Thank you Henri for your life and example! You not only helped teach me to pray and plunge deeper into the abyss of God's great love, but you also help changed my view of who are my brothers and sisters in Christ. Indeed the trajectory of my life has forever been altered for the better.
If you would like to go deeper with Henri Nouwen. I recommend his books, Return of the Prodigal Son and In The Name of Jesus. You can also read some of my favorite quotes of his by clicking here
-from Ryan Thurman's collection
Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen, (Nijkerk, January 24, 1932 - Hilversum, September 21, 1996) was a Dutch Catholic priest and writer who authored 40 books on the spiritual life.
His books are widely-read today by both Protestants and Catholics alike. The Wounded Healer, In the Name of Jesus, Clowning in Rome, The Life of the Beloved and The Way of the Heart are just a few of the more widely recognized titles. After nearly two decades of teaching at the Menninger Foundation Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, and at the University of Notre Dame, Yale University and Harvard University, he left to share his life with mentally handicapped people at the L'Arche community of Daybreak in Toronto, Canada. He died in September of 1996 from a sudden heart attack.
His spirituality was influenced by many, notably by his friendship with Jean Vanier. At the invitation of Vanier he visited L'Arche in France, the first of over 130 communities around the world where people with developmental disabilities live and share life together with those who care for them. In 1986 Nouwen accepted the position of pastor for a L'Arche community called "Daybreak" in Canada, near Toronto.
One of his most famous works is Inner Voice of Love, his diary between December 1987 to June 1988 during one of his most serious bouts with clinical depression.
"More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but you truly love them.”
"Long before any human being saw us, we are seen by God’s loving eyes. Long before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we are heard by our God who is all ears for us."
"Here is the mystery of my life is unveiled, I am loved so much that I am left free to leave home. The blessing is here from the beginning. I have left and keep leaving it. But the father is always looking for me with outstretched arms to receive me back and to whisper again in my ear, “You are my Beloved on you my favor rests”
"The farther I run away from the place God dwells, the less I am able to hear the voice that calls me the Beloved, and the less I hear the voice, the more entangled I become in the manipulations and power games of the world."
"When I think of the many lecture invitations I declined with the argument that I had no time to prepare, I see now how I looked at every speaking engagement-be it a lecture, a sermon or commencement address-as a new performance that calls for new preparation. As if I had to entertain a demanding audience that could not tolerate any poor performance. No wonder that this attitude leads to exhaustion and fatigue…now I see that I was all mixed up. The question is not, do I have time to prepare? But do I live in a state of preparedness."
"In recent years, I have become more and more aware of my own tendency to think that the value of my presence depends on what I say or do. And yet it is becoming clearer to me every day that this preoccupation with performing in fact prevents me from letting God speak through me in any way he wants, and so keeps me from making connections prior to any special word or deed….over the years we have developed the idea that being present to people in all their needs is our greatest and primary vocation. The Bible does not seem to support this. Jesus’ primary concern was to be obedient to his Father, to live constantly in his presence. Only then did it become clear to him what his task was in his relationship with people."
"In the middle of sentences loaded with action-healing suffering people, casting out devils, responding to impatient disciples, traveling from town to town and preaching from synagogue to synagogue-we find these quite words “in the morning long before dawn, Jesus got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there.” In the center of the breathless activities we hear a restful breathing. Surrounded by hours of moving we find a moment of quite stillness…the more I read this nearly silent sentence locked between the loud words of action, the more I have the sense that the secret place of Jesus’ ministry is hidden in that lonely place where he went to pray, early in the morning, long before dawn."
“In solitude we can slowly unmask the illusion of our possessiveness and discover in the center of our own self that we are not what we can conquer, but what is given to us. In solitude we can listen to the voice of him who spoke to us before we could speak a word, who healed us before we could make any gesture to help, who set us free long before we could free others, and who loved us long before we could give love to anyone. It is in this solitude that we discover that being is more important than having, and that we are worth more than the result of our effort. In solitude we discover that our life is not a possession to be defended, but a gift to be shared”
-Henri Nouwen (from Out of Solitude pg. 22)
"Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self. Jesus himself entered this furnace, and there he was tempted with the three compulsions of the world: to be relevant (“turn stones into loaves), to be spectacular (“throw yourself down”), and to be powerful (“I will give you all these kingdoms”). There he affirmed God as the only source of his identity (“You must worship the LORD your God and serve him alone”). Solitude is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter—the struggle against the compulsions of the false self, and the encounter with the loving God who offers himself as the substance of the new self.”
“In solitude I get rid of my scaffolding: no friends to talk with, no telephone calls to make…The task is to persevere in my solitude, to stay in my cell until all my seductive visitors get tired of pounding on my door and leave me alone.”
-Henri Nouwen (the way of the heart pg. 20-25)
"Dear Lord, you are the first of the just. You lived the righteous life. It is because of you that your heavenly Father keeps this world in existence and shows us such mercy to us sinners. who am I, Lord, to expect your love, protection, and mercy? Who am I to deserve a place in your heart, in your house, in your reign? Who am I, Lord, to hope in your forgiveness, your friendship, your embrace? and still this is what I am waiting for, expecting, even counting on! Not because of my own merits, but solely because of your immense mercy. You lived for us the life that is pleasing to God. O Lord, you are the just one, the blessed one, the beloved one, the righteous one, the gracious one. I pray that your Father, the Father of all people, the One who created me and sustains me day in and day out, may recognize in me your marks and receive me because of you. Help me to follow you, to unite my life with yours and to become a mirror of your love."
"Ministers who have many projects, plans, and appointments, but who have lost their heart somewhere in the midst of their activities."
"For a person of prayer is, in the final analysis, the person who is able to recognize in others the face of the Messiah and make visible what was hidden, make touchable what was unreachable. The person of prayer is a LEADER precisely because through their articulation of God’s work WITHIN THEM, they can lead others out of confusion to clarification, through their compassion, they can guide them out of closed circuits of their in-groups to the wide world of humanity, and through their critical contemplation they can convert their destructiveness into creative work for the new world to come."
"Giving yourself to others is only possible when you have been fully received…only when you know yourself as unconditionally loved-that is fully received by God-can you give gratuitously. Giving without wanting anything in return is trusting that all of your needs will be provided by the one who loves you unconditionally. It is trusting that you do not need to protect your own security but can give yourself completely to the service of others…you cannot give yourself to others if you do not own yourself, and you can only truly own yourself when you have been fully received in unconditional love. Often what looks like love is really a cry for affection or support. When you know yourself as fully loved you will be grateful for what is given to you without clinging to it, and joyful for what you can give without bragging about it. You will be a free person….Free to love!"
"The goal of our life is not people it is God. Only in him shall we find the rest we seek. It is therefore to solitude that we must return, not alone, but with all those we embrace through our ministry. This return continues until the time when the same Lord who sent us into the world calls us back to be with Him in never-ending communion."
"The goal of education and formation of the ministry is continually to recognize the Lord’s voice, his face, and his touch in every person we meet."
“They want love so bad its killing them, (Discussing sad stories of sexual promiscuity), looking for the deepest need for communion with God they turn to sexual relationships and are dying of diseases like aids.”
"There is so much fear in us. Fear of people, fear of God, and much raw, undefined, free-floating anxiety. I wonder if fear is not our main obstacle to prayer. When we enter into the presence of God start to sense that huge reservoir of fear in us, we want to run away into the many distractions which our busy world offers us so abundantly. But we should not be afraid of our fears. We can confront them, give words to them, and lead them into the presence of the one who says, “Do not be afraid, it is I.” Our inclination is to show our Lord only what we feel comfortable with. But the more we dare to reveal our whole trembling self, the more we will be able to sense that God’s love, which is perfect love, casts out all fears."
"O Lord, I pray that your children may come to feel your presence and be immersed in your deep, warm, affective love. And to me, O Lord, your stumbling friend, show your mercy. Amen"
"Spiritual life is the life of God’s Spirit within us, both as individuals and as a community. Therefore the point of spiritual formation is to discern where something is happening. The reason for this is that there is a real tendency in us to think of the spiritual life as a life that will begin when we have certain feelings, think certain thoughts, or gain certain insights. The problem, however, is not how to make the spiritual life happen, but to see where it actually is happening. We work on the premise that God acts in this world, in the lives of individuals and communities. God is doing something. Our task is to become aware of where and how God is presently acting and to recognize that indeed it is God who is acting. Our task is to help people see that in fact they are involved in the spiritual life already…"
"Obedience means listening to and really hearing how much God loves us. Obedience means, therefore, slowly allowing God’s Spirit to draw us to places some of which we might rather avoid. For God is a demanding God. God’s love is a demanding love. God demands a lot of us, but he demands it out of love."
I think that real teaching and preaching should create community, create a joyful recognition of being a part of the same human condition. So I feel quite often that the purpose of teaching or lecturing or preaching is indeed to bring people together. It’s a form of convening. As a minister you are a convener.
I have noticed one thing in particular: increasing prosperity has not made people more friendly toward one another. They’re better off; but that newfound wealth has not resulted in a new sense of community. I get the impression that people are more preoccupied with themselves and have less time for one another that when they didn’t possess so much. There’s more competitiveness, more envy, more unrest, and more anxiety. There’s less opportunity to relax, to get together informally, and enjoy the little things in life. Success has isolated a lot of people and made them lonely.
I think it’s this mentality that lies behind a lot of anxiety, unrest, and agitation. Its as though we’re forever on the go, trying to prove to each other that we deserve to be loved. The doubt we harbor within us drives us on to ever-greater activity. In that way we try to keep our heads above water and not drown in our ever-increasing lack of self-respect. The enormous propensity to seek recognition, admiration, popularity, and renown is rooted in the fear that without all this we are worthless. You could call it the “commercialization” of love. Nothing for nothing. Not even love.
We fail to know our hidden center; and so we live and die often without knowing who we really are. If we ask ourselves why we think, feel, and act in a certain way, we often have no answer, thus proving to be strangers in our own house.
Prayer is the bridge between my unconscious and conscious self. Prayer connects my mind with my heart, my will with my passions, my brain with my belly. Prayer is the way to let the life-giving Spirit of God penetrate all the corners of my being. Prayer is the divine instrument of my wholeness, unity and inner peace.
For me personally, prayer becomes more and more a listening to the blessing. I have read and written much about prayer, but when I go to a quiet place to pray, I realize that, although I have a tendency to say many things to God, the real “work” of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me. This might sound self-indulgent, but, in practice, it is a hard discipline. I am so afraid of being cursed, of hearing that I am no good or not good enough, that I quickly give in to the temptation to start talking and to keep talking in order to control my fears. To gently push aside and silence the many voices that question my goodness and to trust that I will hear a voice of blessing…that demands real effort
I still believe deeply that our few years on this earth are part of a much larger event that stretches out far beyond the boundaries of our birth and death. I think of it as a mission into time a mission that is very exhilarating and even exciting. Mostly because the One who sent me on the mission is waiting for me to come home and tell the story of what I have learned.
O Lord Jesus, you who came to us to show the compassionate love of your Father, make your people know this love with their hearts, minds and souls. So often we feel lonely, unloved, and lost in the valley of tears. We desire to feel affection, tenderness, care, and compassion, but suffer from inner darkness, emptiness, and numbness. I pray tonight: Come, Lord Jesus, come. Do not just come to our understanding, but enter our hearts—our passions, emotions, and feelings—and reveal your presence to us in our inmost being. As long as you remain absent from that intimate core of our experience, we will keep clinging to people, things, or events to find some warmth, some sense of belonging. Only when you really come, really touch us, set us ablaze with your love, only then will we become free and let go of all false forms of belonging. Without that inner warmth, all our ascetical attempts remain trivial, and we might even get entangled in the complex network of our own good intentions.
Nouwen remarked of his experience with the people of L'Arche, "If they express love for you, then it comes from God. It's not because you accomplished anything. These broken, wounded, and completely unpretentious people forced me to let go of my relevant self—the self that can do things, show things, prove things, build things—and forced me to reclaim that unadorned self in which I am completely vulnerable, open to receive and give love regardless of any accomplishments."
A Rule offers ‘creative boundaries within which God’s loving presence can be recognized and celebrated.’ It does not prescribe but invite, it does not force but guide, it does not threaten but warn, it does not instill fear but points to love. In this it is a call to freedom, freedom to love.
The Mosaic That Shows Us the Face of God
A mosaic consists of thousands of little stones. Some are blue, some are green, some are yellow, some are gold. When we bring our faces close to the mosaic, we can admire the beauty of each stone. But as we step back from it, we can see that all these little stones reveal to us a beautiful picture, telling a story none of these stones can tell by itself. That is what our life in community is about. Each of us is like a little stone, but together we reveal the face of God to the world. Nobody can say: “I make God visible.” But others who see us together can say: “They make God visible.” Community is where humility and glory touch.
A spiritual discipline…is the concentrated effort to create some inner and outer space in our lives…A spiritual discipline sets us free to pray, or to say it better, allows the Spirit of God to pray in us.
-Henri Nouwen (‘Making All Things New’)
“true solitude far from being the opposite of community life is the place where we come to realize that we were together before we came together and that community life is not a creation of the human will but an obedient response to the reality of our being united. Many people who have lived together for years and whose love for one another has been tested more than once know that the decisive experience in their life was not that they were able to hold together but that they were held together. That in fact we are a community not because we like each other or have a common task or project but because we are called together by God.”
“To live a life that is not dominated by the desire to be relevant but is instead safely anchored in the knowledge of God’s first love, we have to be mystics—a mystic is a person whose identity is deeply rooted in God’s first love.”
“The mystery of ministry is that we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God.”
“Stop wondering around. Instead come home and trust that God will bring you what you need; For as long as you can remember, you have been a pleaser, depending on others to give you an identity. But now you are being asked to let go of all these self made props and trust that God is enough for you…the root choice is always trust at all times that God is with you and will give you what you most need.”
“truly accepting love, forgiveness, and healing is often much harder than giving it. The place beyond earning, deserving, and rewarding. Place of surrender and complete trust. I did not realize how deeply rooted my resistance was and how agonizing it would be too…”come to my senses, fall on my knees and let my tears fall freely…to become part of the story of the prodigal son…each step seemed impossible; to let go one more time of wanting to be in control, the desire to predict life, fear of not knowing where it will all lead, and surrender to a love that knows no limits. I will never be able to live the great commandment to love without allowing myself to be loved without conditions or prerequisites.
In his book Reaching Out, author Henri Nouwen defines a stranger as someone who is "estranged from their own past, culture and country, from their neighbors, friends and family, from their deepest self and from God."(2)
“The way of the Christian leader is not the way of upward mobility in which our world has invested so much, but the way of downward mobility ending on the cross…powerlessness and humility in the spiritual life do not refer to people who have no spine and who let everyone make decisions for them. They refer to people who are so deeply in love with Jesus that they are ready to follow him wherever he guides them, always trusting that, with him, they will find life and find it abundantly.”
-Henri Nouwen (In the Name of Jesus p.62-64)
"Receptivity without confrontation leads to a bland neutrality that serves nobody. Confrontation without receptivity leads to an oppressive aggression which hurts everybody."
“We always seem to have something more urgent to do and ‘just sitting there’ and ‘doing nothing’ often disturbs us more than it helps. But there is no way around this. Being useless and silent in the presence of God belongs to the core of all prayer. In the beginning we often hear our own unruly noises more loudly than God’s voice. This is at times very hard to tolerate. But slowly, very slowly, we discover that the silent time makes us quiet and deepens our awareness of God. Then, very soon, we start missing these moments when we are deprived of them, and before we are fully aware of it an inner momentum has developed that draws us more and more into silence and closer to that still point where God speaks to us.”
-Henri Nouwen (‘Reaching Out’)
“Listen to your heart. It’s there that Jesus speaks most intimately to you. Praying is first and foremost about listening to Jesus, who dwells in the very depths of your heart. He doesn’t shout. He doesn’t thrust himself upon you. His voice is an unassuming voice, very nearly a whisper, the voice of a gentle love.”
-Henri Nouwen Way of the Heart
“Reading the scriptures is not as easy as it seems since in our academic world we tend to make anything and everything we read subject to analysis and discussion. But the word of God should lead us first of all to contemplation and meditation. Instead of taking the words apart, we should bring them together in our innermost being; instead of wondering if we agree or disagree, we should wonder which words are directly spoken to us and connect directly with our most personal story. Instead of thinking about the words as potential subjects for an interesting dialogue or paper, we should be willing to let them penetrate into the most hidden corners of our heart, even to those places where no other word has yet to find entrance. Then and only then can the word bear fruit as seed sown in rich soil. Only then can we really “hear and understand.”
-Henri Nouwen Reaching Out
“Old and New Testament stories not only show how serious our obligation is to welcome the stranger into our home, but they also tell us that guests are carrying precious gifts with them, which they are eager to reveal to a receptive host. When Abraham received three strangers at Mamre and offered them water, bread and fine tender calf, they revealed themselves to him as the Lord announcing that Sarah his wife should give birth to a son (Genesis 18:1-15). When the widow of Zarephath offered food and shelter to Elijah, he revealed himself as a man of God offering her an abundance of oil and meal and raising her son from the dead (I Kings 17:9-24). When the two travelers to Emmaus invited the stranger, who had joined them on the road to stay with them for the night, he made himself known in the breaking of the bread as their Lord and Saviour (Luke 24: 13-35)
When hostility is converted to hospitality then fearful strangers can become guests revealing to their hosts the promise they are carrying with them. Then in fact, the distinction between host and guest proves to be artificial and evaporates in the recognition of the new found unity. Thus the biblical stories help us to realize not jus that hospitality is an important virtue, but even more that in the context of hospitality guest and host can reveal their most precious gifts and bring new life to each other.”
-Henri Nouwen Reaching Out
“It may sound strange to speak of the relationship between parents and children in terms of hospitality. But it belongs to the center of the Christian message that children are not properties to own and rule, but gifts to cherish and care for. Our children are our most important guests, who enter into our home, ask for careful attention, stay for a while and then leave to follow their own way… What parents can offer is a home, a place that is receptive but also has the safe boundaries within which their children can develop and discover what is helpful and what is harmful. There their children can ask questions without fear and can experiment with life without the risk of rejection. There they can be encouraged to listen to their own inner selves and to develop the freedom that gives them the courage to leave home and travel on. The hospitable home indeed is the place where father, mother and children can reveal their talents to each other, become present to each other as members of the same human family and support each other in their common struggles.“
-Henri Nouwen Reaching Out
Joy is essential to the spiritual life. Whatever we may think or say about God, when we are not joyful, our thoughts and words cannot bear fruit. Jesus reveals to us God’s love so that his joy may become ours and that our joy may become complete. Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing—sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death—can take that love away…
Still, nothing happens automatically in the spiritual life. Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us…it is important to become aware that at every moment of our life we have an opportunity to choose joy. Life has many sides to it. There are always sorrowful and joyful sides to the reality we live. And so we always have choice to live in the moment as a cause for resentment or as a cause for joy. It is in the choice that our true freedom lies, and that freedom is, in the final analysis, the freedom to love. It might be a good idea to ask ourselves how we develop our capacity to choose joy. Maybe we could spend a moment at the end of each day and decide to remember that day—whatever may have happened—as a day to be grateful for. In so doing we increase our hearts capacity to choose for joy. And as our heart becomes more joyful, we will become, without any special effort, a source of joy for others. Just as sadness begets sadness, so joy begets joy.”
-Henri Nouwen Here and Now
“The mystery of God’s presence, can be touched only be a deep awareness of his absence. It is in the center of our longing for the absent God that we discover his footprints, and realize that our desire to love God is born out of the love with which he has touched us. In the patient waiting for the loved one, we discover how much he has filled our lives already. Just as the love of a mother for her son can grow deeper when he is away, just as children can learn to appreciate their parents more when they have left the home, just as lovers can rediscover each other during long periods of absence, so our intimate relationship with God can become deeper and more mature by the purifying experience of his absence. By listening to our longings, we hear God as their creator. By touching the center of solitude, we sense that we have been touched by loving hands. By watching carefully the endless desire to love, we come to the growing awareness that we can love only because we have been loved first, and that we can offer intimacy only because we are born out of the inner intimacy of God himself.”
-Henri Nouwen Reaching Out
“I am beginning now to see how radically the character of my spiritual journey will change when I no longer think of God as hiding out and making it difficult as possible for me to find him, but, instead, as the one who is looking for me while I am doing the hiding.”
“When Jesus was moved to compassion, the source of all life trembled, the ground of all love burst open, and the abyss of God’s immense, inexhaustible and unfathomable tenderness revealed itself.”
-Henri Nouwen Compassion
“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means immersion in the condition of being human.”
-Henri Nouwen Compassion
“Since I was very young my life has been dominated by two strong voices. The first said, “Make it in the world and be sure you can do it on your own.” And the other voice said, “Whatever you do for the rest of your life, even if it’s not very important, be sure you hold on to the love of Jesus.” Again the first voice urged me to make my mark, and make sure I do something relevant. And the other voice said, “Don’t lose touch with Jesus, who chose a very humble and simple way. Jesus by his life and death will be your example for living.” I’ve struggled because one voice seemed to be asking for upward mobility and the other for downward mobility and I was never sure how to do both at the same time.”
-Henri Nouwen ‘Home Tonight’
“In the competitive world we live in the word “home,” means very little. Success, power, and prestige obliterate the concepts of community, intimacy, and togetherness.”
When I saw the men and women who announced their covenant with Jesus and the poor, I saw how real this downward way of Jesus is and how, if I go this way, I go not alone, but as a member of the “body of Jesus.” Seldom have I experienced so directly the difference between individual heroism and communal obedience. Whenever I think about becoming poor as something I must accomplish, I become oppressed. But as soon as I realize that my brothers and sisters call me to go this way with them in obedience to Jesus. I am filled with hope and Joy
-Henri Nouwen (from The Road to Daybreak)
“As soon as we are alone…chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering a private room and shutting the door, therefore does not mean that we immediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieties, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distractions, we often find that our inner distractions manifest themselves to us in full force. We often use the outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important.”
“Solitude is the place where Christ remodels us in his own image and frees us from the victimizing compulsions of the world.”
For a long time, I sought safety and security among the wise and clever, hardly aware that the things of the Kingdom were revealed to “little children”; that God has chosen “those who by human standards are fools to shame the wise.” But when I experienced the warm, unpretentious reception of those who have nothing to boast about, and experienced a loving embrace from people who didn’t ask any questions, I began to discover that a true spiritual homecoming means a return to the poor in spirit to whom the Kingdom of Heaven belongs.
Gratitude is not a simple emotion or an obvious attitude. It is a difficult discipline to constantly reclaim my whole past as the concrete way in which God has led me to this moment and is sending me into the future. It is hard precisely because it challenges me to face the painful moments – experiences of rejection and abandonment, feelings of loss and failure – and gradually to discover in them the pruning hands of God purifying my heart for deeper love, stronger hope, and broader faith.
“Mystics are men and women of God who ardently desire to dwell in God’s presence, to listen ot God’s voice, to look at God’s beauty, to touch God’s incarnate Word an to taste fully God’s infinite goodness.”
-Henri Nouwen (In the Name of Jesus 29-30)
“God, help me to see others not as my enemies or as ungodly but rather as thirsty people. And give me the courage and compassion go offer your Living Water, which alone quenches deep thirst.”
-Henri Nouwen (a prayer)
“The desire to save, whether from sin or poverty or exploitation, is one of the most damaging motives in ministry. “Humility is the real Christian virtue…when we come to realize that…only God saves, then we are free to serve, then we can live truly humble lives. It makes all the difference in the world whether I view my neighbor as a potential convert or as someone whom God already loves.”
“Our life in Christ and our ministry in his name belong together as the two beams of the cross.”
-Henri Nouwen ‘The Selfless Way of Christ’
“There is a profound difference between the false ambition for power and the true ambition to love and serve. It is the difference between trying to raise ourselves up and trying to lift up our fellow human beings.”
-Henri Nouwen ‘The Selfless Way of Christ’
“The spiritual life is a life guided by the same Spirit who guided Jesus Christ. The Spirit is the breath of Christ in us, the divine power of Christ active in us, the mysterious source of new vitality by which we are made aware that it is not we who live, but Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20). Indeed, to live a spiritual life means to become living Christs. It is not enough to try to imitate Christ as much as possible; it is not enough to remind others of Jesus; it is not even enough to be inspired by the words and actions of Jesus Christ. No, the spiritual life presents us with a far more radical demand: to be living Christs here and now, in time and history.”
-Henri Nouwen ‘The Selfless Way of Christ’
Regardless of the particular shape we give to our lives, Jesus’ call to discipleship is primal, all-encompassing, all-inclusive, demanding a total commitment. One cannot be a little bit for Christ, give his some attention, or make him one of many concerns.”
-Henri Nouwen ‘The Selfless Way of Christ’
“The story of our salvation stands radically over and against the philosophy of upward mobility. The great paradox which Scripture reveals to us is that real and total freedom is only found through downward mobility. The Word of God came down to us and lived among us as a slave. The divine way is indeed the downward way. In the center of our faith as Christians stands the mystery that God has chosen to reveal the divine mystery by unreserved submission to the downward pull. God not only chose an insignificant people to carry the Word of salvation through the centuries, not only chose a small remnant of those people to fulfill God’s promises, not only chose a humble girl in an unknown town in Galilee to become the temple of the Word, but God also chose to manifest the fullness of divine love in a man whose life led to a humiliating death outside the walls of the city. This mystery was so deeply ingrained in the minds and hearts of the early Christians that they sang in the hymn of Christ
Indeed, the one who was from the beginning with God and who was God revealed himself as a small, helpless child; as a refugee in Egypt; as an obedient adolescent an inconspicuous adult; as a penitent disciple of the Baptizer; as a preacher from Galilee, followed by some simple fisherman; as a man who ate with sinners an talked with strangers; as an outcast, a criminal, a threat to his people. He moved from power to powerlessness, from greatness to smallness, from success to failure, from strength to weakness, from glory to ignominy. The whole life of Jesus of Nazareth was a life in which all upward mobility was resisted.
Some people wanted to make him king. They wanted him to show power. They wanted to share in his influence and to sit on thrones with him. But he consistently said “no” to all these desires and pointed to the downward way. “The Son of Man has to suffer…can you drink the cup?” Even after his death, when his followers spoke of him as a defeated freedom fighter and said, “Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free” (Luke 24:21), he had to remind them again of the downward way: “was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:26)
Jesus leaves little doubt that the way he lived is the way he offers his followers: “The disciple is not superior to his teacher, nor the slave to his master” (Matthew 10:24). With great persistence he points out the downward way: ‘Anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:26-28). The downward way is the way of the cross: “Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39)…this can sometimes sound morbid or depressing, until we come to know that following Jesus on the downward road means entering into a new life, the life of the Spirit of Jesus himself.
“To pray is to walk in the full light of God, and to say simply, without holding back, ‘I am human and you are God.’ At that moment, conversion occurs, the restoration of the true relationship. A human being is not someone who once in a while makes a mistake, and God is not some who now and then forgives. No, human beings are sinners and God is love.”
Waiting is not a very popular attitude. Waiting is not something that people think about with great sympathy. In fact, most people consider waiting a waste of time. Perhaps this is because the culture in which we live is basically saying, “Get going! Do something! Show you are able to make a difference! Don’t just sit there and wait!” For many people, waiting is an awful desert between where they are and where they want to go. And people do not like such a place. They want to get out of it by doing something.
“You have to trust that every true friendship has no end …. The love you give and receive is a reality that will lead you closer and closer to God as well as to those whom God has given you to love.”
I am with people who are poor in spirit. They teach me that being is more important than doing, the heart is more important than the mind, and doing things together is more important than doing things alone.
-Henri Nouwen (The Road to Peace: Writings on Peace and Justice)
Patience is a hard discipline. It is not just waiting until something happens over which we have no control: the arrival of the bus, the end of the rain, the return of a friend, the resolution of a conflict. Patience is not waiting passively until someone else does something. Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient, we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real thing will happen tomorrow, later, and somewhere else. Be patient and trust that the treasure you are looking for is hidden in the ground on which you stand.
“One of the greatest challenges of the spiritual life is to receive God’s forgiveness. There is something in us humans that keeps us clinging to our sins and prevents us from letting God erase our past and offer us a completely new beginning. Sometimes it even seems as though I want to prove to God that my darkness is too great to overcome. While God wants to restore me to the full dignity of sonship, I keep insisting that I will settle for being a hired servant. But do I truly want to be restored to the full responsibility of the son? Do I truly want to be so totally forgiven that a completely new way of living becomes possible? Do I trust myself and such a radical reclamation? Do I want to break away from my deep-rooted rebellion against God and surrender myself so absolutely to God’s love that a new person can emerge? Receiving forgiveness requires a total willingness to let God be God and do all the healing, restoring and renewing. As long as I want to do even a part of that myself, I end up with partial solutions, such as becoming a hired servant. As a hired servant, I can still keep my distance, still revolt reject, strike, run away, or complain about my pay. As the beloved son, I have to claim my full dignity and begin preparing myself to become the father.”
by John DelHousaye
After Jesus’s baptism, Mark writes:
And suddenly the Spirit casts him into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days to be tempted by the Satan, and he was among the wild animals; and the angels were serving him. (1:12-13)
The Satan is a transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning “enemy.” The article probably identifies him as the ultimate adversary. If we look to Mark’s characterization, Satan aims to pluck God’s word out of human hearts (4:15). The Father has validated the Son’s sacrificial calling (v. 11), and the tempter wants to distract him from this goal (8:33).
The setting echoes Job’s introduction of “the Satan,” who goes “to and fro on the earth” wanting people to curse God (1:7) In the heavenly throne room, God praises Job, but Satan challenges his evaluation, a popular exchange in Jewish literature.
Mark uniquely includes “wild animals” (Gr. thērion) in the scene (Matthew and Luke do not mention them in their presentations of Jesus’s temptations). Foundational stories—what gives a community an identity—often go in two opposing directions: the city is a refuge from the chaos of nature (civilization stories) or a place of pollution, spoiling ecological harmony (degradation stories). The Fourfold Gospel is a kind of foundation story, but does not easily fall into either type.
On the one hand, Jesus may be facing a menacing wilderness. In The Life of Adam and Eve, Seth attempts to collect some “oil of life” from Paradise, but “a serpent, a beast”—the language echoes the biblical account of the Fall—“attacked and bit” him. The wilderness could be understood as the space between cities (like a dark sea before a harbor). This is a common, urban viewpoint. I used to encounter snakes and scorpions in the suburbs of Phoenix; not in the heart of the city.
Jesus’s safety, then, represents God’s protection (Ezek 34:25; Dan 6:22). If we follow this negative interpretation, Jesus may evoke Psalm 91: “You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot” (v. 13). Matthew (4:6) and Luke (4:10-11) have Satan recite this Psalm. Luke records a related saying: “I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the Enemy” (10:19). Some Jews believed the Messiah would kill Leviathan, a hope appropriated in Revelation and by the monks: “Christ, the Son of the living God, who is destined to destroy the great sea-monster, will destroy you too,” said Amoun to a serpent.
On the other hand, his relationship to the wild animals may be a vision (or prefiguring) of the Kingdom. When cast into the wilderness, Jesus neither kills nor takes from animals for his own sustenance; the angels serve food, like manna for the exodus generation. The gospel brings healing to the world (Heb. tikkun olam) or, in today’s language, ecological flourishing when violence between predator and prey will cease (Isa 11:6-9; 65:25). Survival of the fittest—creation “red in tooth and claw”—ends (Tennyson, In Memoriam LVI 15). Harmony with creation evidences the fulfillment of Isaiah’s vision, concerning which John was to serve as precursor.
Jesus, then, is the new (or last) Adam. Mark uses the same word from the Greek translation of the creation story: “God made the wild animals (τὰ θηρία, to thēria) of the earth . . . and God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:25). He exorcises the devil from Paradise. The devil complains to Antony about the crowds of monks invading his domain (Athanasius, Life of Antony 41). “Why do you persecute me?,” he complains to Benedict (Gregory, Dial. 2.8).
Yet the fulfillment of the vision requires a physiological transformation of predators and other flesh-eaters, which has yet to happen. Animals still eat animals, and, more importantly, some animals must eat animals to thrive—obligate carnivores, such as lions. Many impoverished human beings must eat fish to live.
This tension continues in the Christian tradition. During the Neronian Persecution (64), Christians “were clad in the hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs” (Tacitus, Annals 15.44). A generation later Ignatius of Antioch (c. 50 - c. 110) was probably fed to lions in the Coliseum. The Historia Monachorum in Aegypto describes monks slaying wild beasts.
Yet the gospel can also bring peace to the human-creature relationship. When the wild beasts were brought to devour Alexander of Jerusalem (d. 251), some, according to his Vita, licked his feet. Jerome (c. 347 – 420) notes that when Paulus, the “founder of the monastic life,” died, two lions “came straight to the corpse of the blessed old man and there stopped, fawned upon it and lay down at its feet, roaring aloud as if to make it known that they were mourning in the only way possible to them.” Before that, a raven had fed him bread. Amoun “summoned two large serpents” and “ordered them to remain in front of the hermitage and guard the door” of his home against thieves. Abba Bes calmed a hippopotamus. Theon kept “company with wild beasts” and shared his water with them. Anthony of Pedua preached to fish; Francis, to birds as brothers and sisters.
The two interpretations of the wilderness (which also read the city), are not mutually exclusive in the Christian tradition. Monks invaded the wilderness to exorcise demons from Eden, or as Milton’s famous works are titled, Paradise Lost and Regained. After spiritual conflict, the monk enjoys peace (quietness).
Our Bible ends in a city and garden.
John DelHousaye is a friend of A2J. To learn more about him click here
 In Jubilees, Mastema (Satan) encourages God to test Abraham’s faith through Isaac’s sacrifice (17.16).
 John Paul Heil, “Jesus with the Wild Animals in Mark 1:13.” CBQ 68 (2006): 63-78. The expression thēria agria is used for dangerous animals in the wilderness, which fits the present context (Xenophan, An. 1, 2, 7; T. Sol 10, 3 C; PsSol. 13.3-4; 1 Clem. 56:12. Habakkuk mentions “panthers” and “wolves at night” (1:8; cited in 1QpHab III.6-7). The unit may be chiastic: (A) The Spirit (of God), (B) The Satan, (B’) animals, (A’) angels. If so, there is a kinship between The Satan and animals (just as there is between the spirit and angels). In light of the allusions to Eden, the Satan may mediate his temptations through the animals, like the Serpent (just as the Spirit mediates provisions through the angels). But there is no direct evidence for this.
 37.1, Latin; tr. Johnson; Gen 3:1.
 Russell and Ward, Lives of the Desert Fathers, 81.
 We find this reading in Christian literature, like The Acts of Philip.
 See 4:19, 38; 9:17; 12:12. The Greek may be translated: “And he was with the animals, but the angels were serving him [meals].”
 Some would date his birth to around 35.
 Russell and Ward, Lives of the Desert Fathers, 50.
 The first quote, auctor vitae monasticae, is taken from Epistle 22; the second, Life of Paulus. He is also know as Paul of Thebes or St. Paul the First Hermit.
 Russell and Ward, Lives of the Desert Fathers, 80.
 Russell and Ward, Lives of the Desert Fathers, 66.
 Russell and Ward, Lives of the Desert Fathers, 68.