Desert Wisdom

Sayings From The Desert Fathers

Desert Wisdom is a book of stories and sayings of the Christian hermits from fourth and fifth century Egypt. These hermits had moved to the desert near the time that Christian persecution had ended and the state had accepted Christianity.

These stories and sayings were translated by Yushi Nomura with an introduction and epilogue written by Henri Nouwen.

Henri Nouwen had taught a class on this subject at Yale Divinity School which had been attended by Yushi Nomura.

The sayings and stories in the book are all very short with each one taking no more than two pages including illustrations and at only 122 pages this book can be read in one setting. On the other hand if you desire, you could read one saying and spend considerable time thinking about its message. Unfortunately I’m not that kind of reader, so I just kept moving through it, occasionally stopping to grasp the meaning.

The short sayings cover several topics. Some of them I’ll have to admit I did not understand. Others made perfect sense and still others could have come straight from Biblical texts.

One of the more interesting sayings reads:

“The brothers asked Abba Agathon: Father, which of the virtues of our way of life demands the greatest effort? He said to him: Forgive me, but there is no effort comparable to prayer to god. In fact, whenever you want to pray, hostile demons try to interrupt you. Of course they know that nothing but prayer to God entangles them. Certainly when you undertake any other good work, and persevere in it, you obtain rest. But prayer is a battle all the way to the last breath.”

Desert Wisdom is an interesting book that will make you think and may be best suited for those that like to read a thought and ponder it awhile.

Desert Wisdom

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