Just watched the final part of Extreme Pilgrim [see my earlier post]. Fascinating, powerful, demanding stuff. I was reading some of the Desert Fathers' sayings this morning. I'm still thinking through why the Fathers major so much on sin, temptation, and overcoming the dark side - and what their emphasis could mean for us now. Perhaps it has something to do with what we find within ourselves [good and not so good] when everything else is stripped away. Fr Richard Rohr writes about this in 'Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction':
'Sin and grace are related. In a certain sense the only way we really understand salvation, grace, and freedom, is by understanding their opposites. That's why the great saints are, invariably, converted sinners. When you finally have to eat and taste your own hard-heartedness, your own emptiness, selfishness and all the rest, then you open up to grace.... I think all of us have to confront ourselves as poor people in that way'.
The desert, any kind of desert, is a tough place, but perhaps there is grace to be found there. And that would be why the hermit Fr Lazarus could speak of finding the 'full emptiness of the desert'.