Desert Communion

The intrepid, results-based consultant and her companions had built their fire at the beach just before midnight, and had spent the hours before the Easter dawn in fellowship, discourse, and prayer, practices reminiscent of the Desert Fathers of the third century, the practices that John Eldredge and Brent Curtis refer to as “desert communion”.

As dawn slowly greater approached, she moved away from the fire to spend the remaining time in more solitude.

She reflected further on the words Eldredge and Curtis had penned in The Sacred Romance©, describing the silence, solitude, meditation, and simplicity of that practice:  “We have come to the shores of heaven together, to the border of the region where our Christianity begins to move from a focus on doing, to one of communion with Christ.”

Communion.  She thought about the meaning of the word.  While the term is most commonly applied as a proper noun associated with actions and elements of the eucharist, communion can also be either a verb or an adjective, referring to fellowship.  In that sense, communion is the sharing of thoughts, the sharing of matters held in common, sometimes with profound intensity.

Although she did not seek their asceticism, she did admire the willingness of men like Anthony and Athanasius, who were willing, as Jim Elliot expressed it under different circumstances, “to give up what [they] cannot keep, in order to gain what [they] cannot lose.”

“The earliest Christian monks inhabited [the Scetes desert of Egypt] starting at the end of the second century AD.  Known as the ‘Desert Fathers’, they left everything in search of knowing Jesus Christ by making the Gospels absolutely integral to their daily lives.  They wanted to commit themselves totally (body, soul, mind, and will) to being a disciple of the Lord Jesus with a profound holy zeal moving them to become ever more like Christ.  These monks practiced integrity of character with an unrelenting courage that required their whole being to remain in the state of constant humility that comes from knowing that they were loved by God.  Paradoxically, their extraordinarily harsh penances often resulted in gentleness and patience towards others, especially other monks but also visitors who came seeking an understanding of the essence of spiritual life.  These monks sought most of all to experience union with God in the quiet of the desert and in the silence of their hearts.”

– The Monastery of Christ in the Desert (christdesert.org)