Evagrius Ponticus, an influential desert monastic, writes that we should “seek out places that are free from distraction, and solitary. Do not be afraid of the noises you may hear. Even if you should see some demonic fantasy, do not be terrified or flee frm the training ground so apt for your progress. Endure fearlessly, and you will see the great things of God, His help His care, and all the assurances of salvation” (V1:35, Teachings on Asceticism and Stillness in the Solitary Life).
I am not a monk that lives out in the desert. I live in the 21st century as an urban dad. I work as a chaplain to pay my bills and child support, and spend time with my 2 year old daughter.
However, I do identify with Evagrius’ words. My separation and upcoming divorce in a month has been a wilderness experience of my heart. I struggle to return to the inner cell of my heart to rest in the deep silence of peace and serenity from my Higher Power, or what Quakers call Divine Presence.
I have struggleded not loose myself in fantasy and anxiety of the future or wallow in what could have been different in my past. Grief is hard and “enduring fearlessly” as Evagrius suggests has been diffcult. But I have been doing the best I can to let go and let God, and trusting in a hope I do not understand or believe at some moments. All I can do sometimes is take a tiny step forward, and for now it’s enough.
I am not sure what great things I’ll see, but so far it’s enough to see our daughter happy and growing up in two loving households.