Though it happens infrequently, I enjoy reading the spiritual exploits of those from an earlier era, a time when the spiritual journey was more gritty, vibrant, real, and dangerous — often with life or death ramifications. These experiences are far different from that of the modern-day adherent, whose journeys usually pale in comparison, where risk is small and reward, minimal.
One such enlightening book is The New Mystics by John Crowder. Another, which I’m currently reading, is Patron Saints for Postmoderns by Chris R. Armstrong. Sharing the story of ten who have gone before us, Armstrong first tells of Antony of Egypt.
Antony removed himself to the hot and barren desert in order to hone his spiritual disciplines. (Notably, Jesus did the same thing before he commenced his ministry. Both encountered trials and testing in their desert experience, emerging stronger as a result.)
Antony chose a place reputed to be inhabited only by demons. Of his experience there, Armstrong writes:
“There he indeed encountered demons, who took on the forms of wild beasts, sent by the devil into his cell to intimidate him. But Antony mocked them, reminding them that Christ had robbed them of any authority and cast them down. Not being able to withstand his scornful ridicule, they disappeared.”
It was a spiritual smack down if ever there was one.
It also gives me much to ponder; Antony’s life was far different from mine.
What about yours?