Pastor’s Corner: Distractions

July 8, 2020

I’m beginning to envy the third and fourth century Desert Fathers and Mothers, Christians who left their homes and families and took up a life with minimal comforts in the Egyptian desert. To be clear, I have no desire to spend the rest of my life constantly abraded by sand. I’d much rather not eat their poor diet. What would I do without coffee?

What I envy is the lack of distraction in their lives. What I envy is their capacity to focus on God.

I confess that on Sunday I worry about, well, pretty much everything, even though I don’t have to. Are all the microphones on? Did the stream connect? Will I play the right guitar chords? Will our cleaning products cause problems? Will our attempts to limit spread of the virus work? It’s hard to focus on God amidst it all.

The truth is that the ancients almost certainly struggled in their own ways. By the middle of the fourth century, thousands of monks and nuns lived in the desert, prompting Athanasius of Alexandria to write that “the desert had become a city.” In the 5th century Sayings of the Desert Fathers there is a story that a monk announced that he would shut himself away from people so that he could perfect himself. Another monk told him, “Unless thou first amend thy life going to and fro amongst men, thou shall not avail to amend it dwelling alone.”

A deep spiritual life is one lived among and through the “distractions,” or in other words the needs, realities, and relationships of existence. A deep spiritual life is one that reaches for God even as we respond to the circumstances around us. A deep spiritual life is one rooted in the real world.

With aloha,

Pastor Eric

Image of Syncletica of Alexandria found in the illustrated manuscript of the Menologion of Basil II (ca. 1000 AD) by Anonymous –, Public Domain,

Categories Pastor's Corner Reflections | Tags: , | Posted on July 21, 2020

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