The Desert as Space

Discerning Thoughts ©

St. Anthony the GreatWhy did these elders choose the desert in the first place? What was the significance of the desert? What is the power of its suggestion?

“Desert” (eremos, epnpos) literally means “abandonment”; it is the term from which we derive the word “hermit”. The areas of desertedness were where the demons bred. In the Book of Leviticus, the desert is the place that is accursed (Lev.16.21). There is no water in the desert, and in the mind of the Jews that was the ultimate curse. No water also meant no life. The desert signified death: nothing grows in the desert. Your very existence is, therefore, threatened. In the desert you will find no one and no thing. In the desert, you can only face up to yourself and to every aspect of your self, to your temptations, and to your reality. You confront your own heart, and your heart’s deepest desires…

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