Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday, March 21. 2012

Being Human
I have been thinking about Jesus as a human being. Jesus was a real person who faced the challenges and difficulties that we face in our lives—and more. He lived with difficult people. He even had people who hated him and wanted to kill him. He was daily faced with meeting the overwhelming challenges of human need. Yet he always seemed relaxed, centered in the depth of the Father’s love for him. In contrast, I am too often anxious and overwhelmed by all I have to do.

I recently read a book of selections from the Desert Fathers. Many selections reflected a severe asceticism that I found troubling. However, I found comfort in a number of the saying of St. Anthony, who is considered one of the greatest desert fathers. I can understand why, as he seemed to communicate a deep wisdom that came from much time in solitude with God. I especially appreciated the saying of Anthony to the bowman:

A hunter in the desert saw Abba Anthony enjoying himself with the brethren and he was shocked. Wanting to show him 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 my bow so much I will break it."
Then the old man said to him,
"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 to 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.

I am a person who is by nature quite serious and always wanting to do what is meaningful or productive, so this saying actually brought me great comfort and encouragement. Like many of the desert fathers, I don’t want to waste time with frivolity. I often get wound up too tightly because I am too serious and try to do too much too quickly.

Last week I was away at a class that was structured more like a retreat. I had the privilege of speaking to another very wise man who has a depth of knowledge and wisdom that I long for. As I asked for wisdom and guidance in relationship to some decisions, he one looked me in the eye and said, “What is really important is not to try to do too much.”

Like many in our culture and even in the church, I live beyond my limits many and varied ways. Just as relaxing the bow is necessary, so I need to learn to lighten up. Relaxing is part of the necessary rhythm of life. There is only way we can learn to relax and choose to live within our human limits as Jesus did: we must believe deep in our souls we have everything we need.


  1. Glenda, I love how you end this post. How very true - the solution to doing too much is realizing we can't do anything ourselves! We don't need to. God's got it all under control. And how true also that we must believe it *deep in our soul* --- it's one thing to know this intellectually or accept it spiritually ... it's other thing to believe it so deeply within that it flows out of every impulse and limb.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate your insight. Glenda