In the fourth century A.D., the deserts of Egypt, Palestine, Arabia, and Persia were peopled by a race of men who left behind them a strange reputation. They were the first Christian hermits, who abandoned the cities of the pagan world to live in solitude.
One of the reasons why they fled from the world of men was that in that world men were divided into those who were successful, and imposed their will on others, and those who had to give in and be imposed upon. The Desert Fathers declined to be ruled by men but had no desire to rule over others themselves.
What the Fathers sought most of all was their own true self, in Christ. And in order to do this, they had to reject completely the false, formal self, fabricated under social compulsion “in the world”.
Sound familiar? At least the false self part?
So much of our lives have been lived conforming to the pressures that society, our parents, peers, and others have placed on each of us. This poor behavior is often done primarily for the purpose of outperforming others or worse making it our life mission to please them, no matter what the cost.
We should take a lesson from the Desert Fathers. Although we may not be living a sequestered life, we can certainly live apart from a compulsion to fit in and separate ourselves in consecration to our Lord.
What might that look like for you? Is there something that has such a tight grip on you that needs to be purged from your life? Surrendered to God? Is it your effort to conform or live out of a false self that God never intended for you to embrace? Ask Him to take “the world” right out of you and purse life in Christ. It‘s the only life worth living.
And that’s the memo.
*Reference The Wisdom of the Desert – Thomas Merton*