Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Withdrawal in Order to Return...

Last night we went to the Greek festival sponsored by the local Greek Orthodox church. Great food, lots of people, beautiful evening! While there I took the opportunity to check out the "agaora". Among the other vendors, there was a gentleman selling books about Orthodoxy. So being the bibliophile that I am, I bought a book about Orthodoxy, The Orthodox Church.

A particular statement in the book garnered my attention. It was in a section discussing monasticism and its importance in the history of Orthodoxy. The statement talks about how a particular pattern can be seen among figures in Orthodox monasticism - a withdrawal in order to return.

"A monk must first withdraw, and in silence learn the truth about himself and God. Then, after this long and rigorous preparation in solitude, having gained the gifts of discernment which are required of an elder, he can open the door of his cell and admit the world from which he formerly fled." ( p. 40)

It seems to me that this pattern of withdrawal in order to return seen in our Orthodox monastic brethren of yesteryear should also be a pattern of behavior found in Christians in this day and age. Now, we may not withdraw to quite the same extent, but hopefully we withdraw in times of prayer, Scripture reading, worship, etc. In these times of solitude with God, we seek to gain gifts of discernment and spiritual wisdom, not to mention a deepening relationship with Jesus. All this so that when we "return" to the hustle and bustle of life we bear evidence of having withdrawn into the solitude of the Creator. Your thoughts?

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