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I’m still living a little in the experience of my desert retreat, reading one of the recommended books* for the second time. I love the way Rev. Gregory Mayers, CSsR, goes deep in each chapter into a saying of one of the Desert Fathers – or Mothers, as in this case – to find a relevant message for today. Here is what chapter 3 held for me yesterday in the very first and last paragraphs of the text.

Amma Syncletica said: In the beginning, there is struggle and a lot of work for those who come near to God. But after that, there is indescribable joy. It is just like building a fire: at first it’s smoky and your eyes water, but later you get the desired result. Thus we ought to light the divine fire in ourselves with tears and effort.

Gregory Mayers concludes: The longer you live, the more you learn that you cannot control your life very much. You are in control of very little, as a matter of fact. The more you realize this fact, the more likely you will enjoy life, the natural ecstasy inherent in life itself. This doesn’t mean that the external circumstances bend to your pleasure. It means you cease judging life, circumstances and events on the basis of your personal comfort and desires. The religious traditions call this “living the Will of God.” Then something happens, something indescribable. We are living in the Mystery, or perhaps to say it better, the Mystery is living us. (p. 28)

*Listen to the Desert: Secrets of Spiritual Maturity from the Desert Fathers and Mothers