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Science and the Myth of Progress
  What can we learn from the Desert Fathers & Mothers? Back to the List of Slideshows
The cell of a contemporary monk in
a monastery on Mt. Athos, Greece
slide 6 of 15

Rev. Chryssavgis tells us in this book that to live in our cell requires patience. In Greek the word is hupomone, which "literally implies just sitting there, simply staying put." This means not running from ourselves, our passions, our personal demons, nor the urge that will surely come to flee back into the world of distraction and relief. And what is required of us to face ourselves in patience is silence, both outer, and especially, inner:
What one comes to practice in patience is the virtue of silence (hesychia). We come to self-knowledge through stillness and silence, through attentiveness and watchfulness (nepsis). When words are abandoned, a new awareness arrives. Silence awakens us from dullness of awareness, from dimness of vision.Silence is also the first duty of love (agape), the first requirement for survival within community.
Abba Poemen said: “Someone may seem to be silent, but if in the heart one is condemning others, then one is babbling ceaselessly. And there may be another who talks from morning till evening, and yet in the heart that person is truly silent. That person says nothing that is not profitable.”
What is also required of us is the courage to face ourselves in humility, i.e., to face our helplessness, our failures and sins, to be “perfected in weakness” (2 Cor: 12:9). This is what the author describes as “the role of tears.” This is the willingness to face our pain, to be broken and to grieve; to admit our dependency on God:
The silence of tears reflects our surrender to God and to new patterns of learning and living. Through weeping, we learn by suffering and undergoing, not just by speculating and understanding.Tears signify an opening of new life, a softening of the soul, a clarity of the mind. They bring us to rebirth and the world to healing. They signify a true homecoming. Through tears we are able to enter the treasury of the heart.
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