Becoming All Flame

A story from the desert fathers: Abba Lot came to Abba Joseph and said: “Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and, according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do?” The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said: “If you will, you can become all flame.”
Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves and gravity, we shall harness for God energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world we will have discovered fire. -Teilhard de Chardin
Out in the barren heat of the desert, the monastics sought to achieve an inner balance that Robert Ellsberg refers to as “inner equilibrium.” They no longer wanted to be ruled by their emotional lives. The isolation of the desert, and the fierce battles they found there, helped them to break free from greed, lust, anger, and pride. As Ellsberg wrote, “When all these passions were pruned away, the result was not an absence of feeling but apatheia — a balance and wholeness expressed in kindness, gentleness and compassion.”…
The desert offered the opportunity to become not just a better Christian; in the words of Desert Father Abba Joseph, the dry backdrop of the desert offered the opportunity to become “All flame.”


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