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  What can we learn from the Desert Fathers & Mothers? Back to the List of Slideshows
slide 12 of 15

Anyone who visits a desert for the first time is often struck with its special kind of stark beauty. The Desert Dwellers also came to love the special beauty of the surrounding desert environment, so that as they lived out their lives there, they became one with the environment and its creatures. They viewed their world as a creation of God, a place to be admired but not adored. “Worship was due to God alone as author and creator of the world,” writes Chryssavgis. In the same way the Desert Fathers and Mothers developed a special relationship with the animals of the desert:
Abba Antony also said: “Obedience with abstinence gives people authority even over wild beasts.” Antony knew the truth of this statement. He had persuaded the animals in his region to live at peace with him and no longer to disturb him. In fact, the notion of being like Adam, before he fell from the graceful condition he enjoyed in paradise, is the ideal to which the desert elders aspired.
Further development of a special relationship with God’s creation was evidenced by the signs and miracles the desert elders were reported to have exhibited:
Another time, when Abba Bessarion had occasion to do so, he said a prayer and crossed the river Chrysoroas on foot, and then continued on his way. Filled with wonder, I asked his pardon and said: “How did your feet feel when you were walking in the water?” He replied: “I felt the water just to my heels, but the rest was dry.”

On another day, while we were going to see an old man, the sun was setting. So Abba Bessarion said this prayer: “I pray you, Lord, that the sun may stand still until we reach your servant,” and this is exactly what happened.

For the Desert Fathers and Mothers, creation is a miracle. The world, too, is a miracle. In fact, it is not the desert dwellers that make miracles happen; they themselves comprise miracles of God. As vessels of another grace, they remind us of the miracle of human existence.
Abba Antony and Abba Paul
(from a Coptic Icon)

Such saints can be characterized as being "at peace in the heart and with the environment."
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