Today I’d like to tell you a little story that has been passed down to us from the lives, stories and teachings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers of Wadi El Natrun in the wilderness deserts of Northern Egypt

*(Wadi El Natrun means 'The Valley of Natron,' also known as Σκήτις Scetis in Hellenistic Greek and Ϣⲓϩⲏⲧ 'Šihēt, in Coptic' meaning, 'Purification of the Heart-Mind').*

Once there was a devout monk who lived in the caves of the desert of Northern Africa.

He was known far and wide for his wisdom.

But few people had ever met this enigmatic man, who had chosen a life of solitude, contemplation and prayer, separate from the rest of society.

On one occasion though, he was invited to a gathering of monks — a synod of sorts.

It wasn’t known whether he would accept the invitation, as he rarely bothered with such affairs.

But come he did.

He travelled for days through the blistering heat of the wilderness to reach the monastery.

Arriving late, the dusty foot hermit went directly to the chapel where the meeting was being held, forgoing the opportunity to wash up and refresh his body with a little food.

He stood outside the doors for a while, listening to the voice of someone teaching, inside for the meeting had already started.

After a minute or two, he quietly slipped in.

The porter, a younger monk standing by the door, recognized him and with respect, smiled and greeted him silently with a hand gesture and bow.

Once inside, the monk set his bag down, stood at the back of the room and listened.

After a short while, the hierophant —

the one teaching —

opened a scroll

and began to recite this proverb...

"Life Giver!

Place a guard at my mouth —

a sentry at the door of my lips —

to keep me

from violating,



and perpetuating suffering."

At that, the old monk smiled knowingly —

bowed with reverence —

picked up his bag —

slung it over his shoulder —

and silently walked out the door.

The younger monk —

the porter who had been attending the door —

followed him outside,

where perplexed,

he whispered,

“But Abba *(Abba means "father")*,

I do not understand…

you have only just arrived!

Why are you now leaving?”

The dusty foot hermit’s brown, weather-beaten face radiated with childlike joy and wonder, as if he had just received a treasure of great value.

“I have heard enough.”

he replied,

“Now, I must go and practice!”

Thus he set off

back to his wilderness hermitage —

and as they story goes...

wasn’t seen again




May your every breath be peace, light and Ineffable Love.

Not two.