“A hunter in the desert saw Abba Anthony enjoying himself with the brethren and he was shocked. Wanting to show that it was necessary sometimes to meet the needs of the brethren, the old man said to him, ‘Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it.’ So he did. The old man then said, ‘Shoot another,’ and he did so. Then the old man said, ‘Shoot yet again,’ and the hunter replied, ‘If I bend the bow so much, I will break it.’ Then the old man said, ‘It is the same with the work of God. If we stretch the brethren beyond measure they will soon break. Sometimes it is necessary to come down and meet their needs.’ When he heard these words, the hunter was pierced by compunction, and greatly edified by the old man, he went away. As for the brethren, they went home strengthened.”
How many times in a day or week does it feel like this bow of ours called, Life, is about to break from having been stretched too far? Whether by pain or pressure, by financial difficulties or family matters, we can each relate to the needing of a break to just relax a bit and lay back from the heaviness responsibility or sickness brings. Life and all it involves was not unknown to Jesus or to any of His disciples, either. They, too, had to find time and ways to take a break; from the crowds, the endless traveling, and the heat and hunger they faced each day.
When the hunter inquired of the Abba, he was left edified by the Abba’s reply and both he AND the brethren went away strengthened. As hermits of St. Giles in this desert wilderness of suffering, we can empathize with our brothers and sisters who have the same challenges, of course, but also with those who have different challenges in life, simply because we are all human beings who have chosen to be on this Journey with Christ, following His lead and trying to remain open to the grace offered us at every moment.
So, today, let us all be edified by the encouraging words of Abba Anthony and take time for a true Sabbath Rest, giving thanks to God for the many blessings we do have. And tomorrow, we just might find that a bit of that Rest remains with us all, as we once again go out to face the new day.
God’s Peace be upon you All,
+a Disciple of Jesus (HHC)