There is a story from the tradition of the Desert Fathers that describes a disciple who endured seventy weeks of fasting. He ate only once a week, week in and week out. During this time of self-denial, he asked God to enlighten his understanding of certain passages of Holy Scripture. God, however, was silent. Again and again he asked, and again and again there was no response. Finally the disciple said to himself, “Look, I have put in this much effort, but I haven’t made any progress. So I will go see my brother and ask him.”
After he left his small hut, closed the door and started off, an angel of God was sent to him. Surprised, the disciple stopped short and fell to his knees. The angel bid him to get up, saying, “seventy weeks of fasting have not brought you near to God. But now that you are humble enough to go to your brother, I have been sent to you to reveal the meaning of the words you sought.” Then the angel explained the Scriptures to the disciple and went away.
This story draws our attention to the importance of seeking wisdom in community. Solitary spiritual disciplines have biblical roots and an important place in the lives of all seekers. Yet it is often when we realize our limitations and decide to share our questions and experiences with others that we know profound growth in God. Connection is all, and spiritual understanding is always enhanced in communion with others.
Transition necessitates such decisions, and in my first days among the people here at Holy Apostles I have had many occasions to seek out the wisdom of others! Fortunately, such wisdom exists here in abundance. I have had interesting and informative conversations with many people involved in all aspects of our common life: parishioners and volunteers, guests at the Soup Kitchen, clergy and staff. I have learned—and laughed!—a lot, and I am grateful for the strength and generosity of this community and all the people in it.
I hope to see many of you at the Forum this Sunday, where you will have an opportunity to ask questions of me! Until then, please be assured of my prayers and of my excitement about the work we will do together as we walk the path God has set before us.