Sayings of the Desert Saints: Perspectives on Work
From The Desert Fathers, Sayings of the Early Christian Monks,
trans. Benedicta Ward (London: Penguin, 2003)
compiled by Alvin Ung
A brother asked a hermit, ‘Tell me something good that I may do it and live by it.’ The hermit said, ‘God alone knows what is good. But I have heard that one of the hermits asked great Nesteros, who was a friend of Anthony, ‘What good work shall I do?’ and he replied, ‘Surely all works please God equally? Scripture says, Abraham was hospitable and God was with him; Elijah loved quiet and God was with him; David was humble and God was with him.’ So whatever you find you are drawn to in following God’s will, do it and let your heart be at peace.
When you desire to follow God’s will, you can do whatever work you want (be it with people or in quiet).
Poemen said, ‘To be on guard, to meditate within, to judge with discernment: these are the three works of the soul.’
Doing work for the inner life requires watchfulness, meditation and discernment.
In Scetis a brother went to Moses to ask for advice. He said to him, ‘Go and sit in your cell, and your cell with teach you everything.’
Solitude is the crucible for transformation and learning.