|St Catherine's Monastery, our home for a week|
To get ready to go to the desert with Grandpa, I have been reading about the Desert Mothers and Fathers and the way they lived and what they taught. We are only going to the Desert for a week but they lived a whole and totally dedicated life there. The real truth of how these ancient devotees lived was that they became solitary, they weren't seeking anything other than to be at one with God and that required their total commitment. Not for them, just a week's retreat with the chance to call home on the mobile phone; not for them just a Lenten give up of crisps, wine and chocolate, it was living the whole life of the total renunciate, no going back home for them, the desert was home.
I am looking forward to a chance to try a week of living in the monastery and it being a week dedicated to being in the atmosphere created by the monks who live close to the lives of the early desert Mothers and Fathers and I hope that somehow we will imbibe by osmosis some of the devotion borne of the disciplined life lived in that place. You might wonder why, when we could be spending a week at Sharm al Shaikh having a pleasant time round the pool, eating crisps, sleeping late, reading books and doing what most people think is restful, we have chosen to have our holiday in a monastery on the Sinai peninsula. It is because we realise that learning to be alone and content with whatever is actually happening at this moment is not easy but we feel it is important because there will come a time when crisp eating, swimming in big blue pools, sleeping long and reading books aren't going to satisfy. Having started the January diet and waved goodbye to visitors and given up alcohol, we can already feel ourselves looking around for something to fill the gap left by those lovely pleasures, looking for something to distract our attention from just simply being by ourselves alone.