Nike's Psyche

An outlet for my peaceful ponderings with, perhaps, the occasional rant.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Desert Father

When I was a teenager, I purchased a print of this painting by Brueghel while visiting the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

I can no longer explain why it struck me so but I would often find myself studying it as I sat in my bedroom loft listening to Gregorian Chant. Yes, I was an odd 16-year-old.

Thirty years later, I find myself continually drawn to Desert Wisdom. During a tough period in my life a few years ago, it was the wisdom of the desert that helped see me through as I read through The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks by Benedicta Ward.

I have read The Forgotten Desert Mothers by Laura Swan more than three times, and this Lent I purchased Desert Father: A Journey in the Wilderness with Saint Anthony by James Cowan to meditate on during the season.

Cowan writes,
" The endless tales of anchorites subjecting their bodies to lack of sleep, filth, poor food, excessive fasting, loneliness, a denial of intellectual discourse, suspicion of learning and of books, suggests a lifestyle that reduces a man [or woman] to both physical and psychological pulp."

Yet no one will deny the holiness of these men and women who managed to reach a true state of apatheia in their ascesis or the multitude of wisdom that can still affect us to this very day.

It is because these jewels of wisdom are so numerous that I have decided to dedicate an entire blog to these sayings. My goal is to provide, daily, a drop of wisdom from the desert.
You can find this new blog at Wisdom of the Desert



  • At 7:14 AM, Blogger CSL said…

    I remember you buying this. I always found the painting unnerving, but fascinating. I don't think I have any of the ascetic in me, though.

  • At 8:37 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    I deeply love the sayings from the desert. Here is a favorite of mine:

    They made a rule in Scete that they would fast a whole week before celebrating Easter. But it happened that in the week some brethren came to Abbot Moses, from Egypt, and he cooked them a little vegetable stew. And when they saw the smoke coming up from his cell, the clerics of the church that is in Scete exclaimed: Look, there is Moses breaking the rule, and cooking food in his cell. When he comes up here we’ll tell him a thing or two. But when the Sabbath came, the clerics saw the great holiness of Abbot Moses, and they said to him: O Abbot Moses, you have broken the commandment of men, but have strongly bound the commandment of God.


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