Three Lessons from The Desert Fathers

person taking photo in sunset

Not to be confused with Dessert Fathers. (English is my second language and it gets confusing at times.)

The Desert Fathers are generally considered… wait, how do we translate this to 21st century language? Let’s just call them the influencers of Christian culture of the 3rd century. Except, instead of them trying to find the public eye to shape their world, they actually separated themselves from it. A famous saying is along the lines of ‘society is a sinking ship. There’s no way to save others if we don’t first save ourselves, so jump off board and flee from it.’ 

And where did they go? Correct, the desert. 

This then became what is considered the birth of monasticism, or with other words they were the first monks of the Christian faith. 

Now, I don’t know who gets to read this and you might be thinking ‘I’m not into spirituality,’ but track with me for a second. 

You might be able to relate to their comments about this society being a sinking ship and not feeling sure if you’d rather save it, run away from it, or find some other divine intervention to deal with it. Running away from it in order to save it might sound too good to be true. We can save ourselves AND others?! 

For the last year or two I’ve been reading some of the stories and sayings from the Desert Fathers and there are clear patterns in their lives that carry these three lessons that I know will inspire you today. 

  1. Solitude 

If some of these words still don’t relate, go and watch ‘Into The Wild,’ and when you’re done, drive around your city while playing the soundtrack to it. By yourself. Really loud. Look for Eddie Vedder’s song ‘Society’ specifically. Crying yet? I think you will understand how important it is to find our place and time to withdraw from the craziness of life, reflect and come to our senses in order to face reality from a place of calm and comfort again.

  1. Silence

In order to really arrive at that place of calm and comfort, solitude isn’t enough. I love my early mornings before the rest of the family wakes up. (Don’t worry – I love my family when they’re awake too.) But just getting up early to scroll through my social media for 2 hours would be pathetic. Those Desert Fathers were lucky to live in the 3rd century and not have to deal with all the distractions we’re dealing with today. Well, I do think we’re blessed to be alive today, but it sure does get noisy sometimes.

  1. Prayer

When you find that place to just be you and you have silenced all the other voices, you will end up finding yourself with just your own thoughts. That’s scary sometimes. What do you do next? Who do you talk to when you’re left with you, the real you? When all the distractions have been cut out and the masks are dropped. Call it prayer, meditation, reflection. Tap in to the Source of Sanity & Salvation in the midst of a seemingly insane society. 

“Society, you’re a crazy breed

I hope you’re not lonely without me” 

–Eddie Vedder in ‘Society’

What do you do to stay sane in the midst of the craziness that life can be at times? Let me know with a comment below. 

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