“Abba John the Dwarf was very fervent. Now someone who came to see him praised his work, and he remained silent, for he was weaving a rope. One again the visitor began to speak and once again he kept silence. The third time he said to the visitor, ‘Since you came here, you have driven away God from me.’
“We have been taught for centuries that silence is a very vital avenue to a close relationship to our Creator. Today we exist in a world of clutter, noise and interruptions. The men and women who went to the desert felt very much the same about their world. Their journey was to escape those distractions to have a deeper and closer relationship with God. People who don’t observe silence have a difficult time understanding and respecting those who do. This saying deals with that issue. Abba John the Dwarf was focused in his work and prayer…. The well-meaning visitor seemingly wanted to engage the monk through his compliment. He apparently had no sense that the way to truly engage the Abba was to join in his work and silence. In that apparent void was the presence of God. The continual ‘noise’ drove God away. Through our conversation, our constant chatter, we crowd out the presence of God. Our challenge is simple. We must give God space in our lives.” Irvin Boudreaux
“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.”
Moving From Head to Heart
- Abba John seems testy, his visitor, clueless. Nevertheless, the intended lesson is clear: respect silence. Do you have a difficult time “understanding and respecting” someone who has sought out silence? If so, what does that say about you?
- It’s easy for us to lose our sense of the “ever-present” God. Are there well-intentioned people in your life who “drive God away” from you? Do you have a plan to protect your times of silence no matter what it takes, so this doesn’t happen often?
- How can you practice silence in a way that allows for interruptions that may be from God?
Lord help me learn this lesson from the desert. Silence my lips and let me feel your presence. In my silence you fill the void instead of me filling my life so full that it crowds you out. (Boudreaux)
For More: The Sayings of the Desert Fathers by Benedicta Ward and Metropolitan Anthony
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)
“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”