And The Two Shall Become One

We’ve been advised,

not to be unequally yoked,

unequally wed.


Yet surely this


isn’t meant,

for us, our computers,

and entertainment—


Where’s the harm,

and where are the vices,

in being married to our devices?

What’s the problem,

and what are the sins,

in mating with new algorithms?


Mixing silicon

into our genetic ocean.

Certainly sounds

like a crazy notion.

Yet man’s progress and ambition,

casts off every inhibition.

So we will inevitably see;

(or already see)

this wedding of the century—


We promise to have,

and to hold them,

wherever we go;

in sickness,

and in health,

forever by our side;

to love,

and cherish,

all that they provide;

and never give our eyes,

to another.


They promise to mold,

and to shape us,

from cradle to the grave;

to conform us,

to data and to speed,

and always to keep us;


To teach our eyes,

to scan each page,

and to live our days,

in this same way;

to keep us always at the surface,

scattered, and safe,

from any depth.


Now all can view whole worlds,

through a variety of screens;

yet few possess discernment,

to know what any of it means.


A very modern matrimony,

between man and his technology.

The object of man’s devotion,

rules his mind and his emotion.

Leading man into a spiritless union,

and the two shall become one.



If Pride Went Tumbling



and truly parasitical,

I feel you cling to me;

dangling from my members.

Like mistletoe,

with a kiss so smooth,

though deadly.



so serious,

yet ultimately ridiculous,

I’ve let you ride me;

put a bridle in my mouth.

Like a monkey,

on my back you drive me,

and you goad me.



you’ve put me on parade,

and made me your showhorse:

I jump, I dance, and I prance,

to win the prize,

before my eyes,

manufactured by your trance.


You’ll whisper in my ear I know,

a secret tale of fear,

and woe:

you and I are a chimera,

from our head down to

our toes.


Oh pride—

What would you do though,

if I no longer allowed you?


Without your sweet mirages,

your tantalizing images:

my life no longer just a vapor,

a falsity and nothing more,

if you tumbled from my back and

my proper vision were restored.



January 30

We should look on man with wonder, conscious that his intellect, being infinite, is the image of the invisible God; and that even if it is for a time limited by the body, as St Basil says, it can embrace all form, just as God’s providence embraces the whole universe. For the intellect has the ability to transform itself into everything, and is dyed with the form of the object it apprehends. But when it is taken up into God, who is formless and imageless, it becomes formless and imageless itself. Then we should marvel at how the intellect can preserve any thought or idea, and how an earlier thought need not be modified by later thoughts, or a later thought injured by earlier ones. On the contrary, the mind like a treasure-house tirelessly stores all thoughts. And these thoughts, whether new or long held in store, the intellect when it wishes can express in language; yet although words are always coming from it, it is never exhausted.

~St Peter of Damaskos

Paths of Desire (part 22)

Though I had already been studying with MD off and on for several years, the way I see it, the official start to our community life began early in the summer of 1993 when four of the original members camped for several days on the rocky cliffs at Salt Point on the northern California coast. The location was remote enough, several hours up Highway 1 from San Francisco, that we didn’t have any other visitors during our time there; yet accessible enough, only a few hundred yards off the highway, that we could easily pack our sleeping and cooking gear down to the rocks from our car. Rather than sheer cliffs, this location had a series of large rocky terraces which gradually stepped down to the water, so it was quite safe and afforded wonderful views of the water from many vantage points and heights, some very near the ocean waves and others perched high above.

One afternoon, I sat on the rocks looking out to sea. The sun was high and bright and the ocean swells reflected brilliantly its light. The smell and the taste of the salt air filled my nostrils and lungs and I felt a great peace and calm come over me. As I watched the rising and falling of the ocean I noticed my own breath had begun to follow the same rhythm and pattern. Without forcing, but just observing, I felt myself inhale and my lungs expand as the ocean surged, and as I exhaled and my lungs contracted I watched the waves relax and subside. Over and over I observed the synchronicity between my own breath and the wave’s motion. At some point I no longer felt that I was watching the waves, but instead that they were moving within me; the reflection of the sun’s rays dancing on the surface of the water as it surged within my own chest, the ocean rolling through my torso, my own diaphragm responding to that same force which controls the tides.

This sensation startled me, and frightened me a little, so I turned away from the sea to regain my sense of normalcy. Where did I go just then? In a way I had lost myself; where do I stop, and where does the world begin; what are my limits, if not my physical body? I considered these things for a moment, and then lamented that I had turned away and broken my connection. I was unable to recreate the experience again, so I just watched the surf after that and enjoyed another beautiful day which transformed into another beautiful night. Each of the four of us found a private place among the terraces and rocky grottos to sleep at night. There is nothing quite so soothing and relaxing as sleeping under the stars with a gentle ocean breeze cooling your face as you snuggle down into the warmth of your sleeping bag, while in the distance the ocean hums a strong but gentle lullaby.

(to be continued)


January 28

Vanity of vanities; all is vanity (Ecclesiastes 1:2). St John of Damaskos says the same thing: ‘All human affairs, all that does not exist after death, are vanity. Riches vanish, glory leaves us. When death comes, all such things disappear.’ And again, ‘Truly all things are vanity; life is but a shadow and a dream, and every man born of the earth troubles himself in vain, as the Scriptures say (Psalm 39:6).’

‘By the time we have gained the whole world we shall be in the grave, where king and pauper are one.’

~St Peter of Damaskos

Work (The First Convergence Dialog)

I found myself in a fantastic place, at a convergence; as if between two lenses: one lens as a mirror reflecting back in time, the other as a telescope projecting into the future.

Were I a train traveling through time, and were my rails made of purest light:

the left rail streaming forth from my past, the right rail bringing light from my future, all three would meet, myself, the right, the left, bending at this one point upon my horizon.

And here I stood, at the point of convergence, and like light arriving from two distant stars, two images appeared:  one young and one old; and here before me stood these men. And I recognized myself in them—as they began to speak—the younger first:

“Of what purpose does worldly work serve? Why must I do this worldly work?”

“Work is a tutor and a guardian. It is a gracious distraction, to keep you busy with trivialities. Until you are ready to seek God with all your heart and all your time, to seek His kingdom first, until then you will work in the world. Lest in your idleness you should fall further away from Him, through apathy and laziness.”

“You’re telling me work is for my benefit then? It feels like a chronic curse; the tedium, the weariness, the never ending busy ness.”

“For now, serve God by serving others. Seeking to know God is not trivial, that is the only non-trivial thing we can do, but we are not ready, or willing to do this, so until we learn that only God is meaningful, and only seeking Him gives our lives lasting purpose, we are occupied with other work which, though trivial, still trains us in the habit of effort, perseverance and service. And even this is better than a life of idleness.”

I’m glad the younger asked such questions of the older, for my troubles were much the same as his.

“I must return now to my work,” the elder said, “the work of prayer and devotion. But I will leave you with this final thought on your work before I go:

“Work makes us men, training out the child within us. But spiritual work makes us children of God, training out the worldly man within us.”

And with that, the images in the lenses faded, their light returning to their proper times, and I reflected on the value of work. I liked what the elder said about this, and resolved to keep this in my heart:

“Work makes us men, training out the child within us. But spiritual work makes us children of God, training out the worldly man within us.”



January 27

What is the point in amassing riches? Despite his unwillingness, the seeming possessor will have to surrender them, not just at the moment of his death, but often before this, with much shame, tribulation and pain. Wealth breeds innumerable trials–fear, anxiety, constant worry and troubles sought and unsought–and yet many have endured even death for its sake. But God’s holy commandment saves every man from all this and gives him complete freedom from anxiety and fear; often, indeed, it confers inexpressible delight on those who deliberately choose to rid themselves of possessions.

For what brings more delight than to achieve dispassion, and no longer to be under the sway of anger or the desire for worldly things? Regarding as nothing the things that most people value and rising above them, we live as in paradise, or rather as in heaven, set free from all constraints through our untroubled devotion to God.

~St Peter of Damaskos

When God Walked Among Us

We cannot remember,

a time when God walked among us.

Now we are estranged;

some of us determined He is no more.

How the holy have fallen,

splintered fragments of former glory.

The city on a hill has fallen,

its gates broken and destroyed.

How its beauty and youth,

have been plundered and squandered.

We have become content,

with far less than what was intended for us.

We live like babes in a nursery,

enamored by toys and squabbling over them.

We are intelligent and advanced,

yet not nearly as dissimilar to toddlers as we ought to be.

We’ve left our natural habitat among the stars,

and traded the heavens for homes made of mud.

We cloud the clear waters of our nature with sin,

and mar the surface of still waters through busy-ness.


We do not see our God with us—

Is He with us?

Does He walk still among us even now?

Is He standing here with us in plain sight;

in Spirit and in Truth?

We no longer see spirit,

and no longer know truth.


We seek our God halfway,

in measured increments on a Sunday.

We wait to get serious,

until the hour of our death.

We hope it will not come too soon,

we are not ready, have not prepared.

Give us just a little more time,

and then we will change our ways.

We live today as if it will last forever,

and treat forever as if it will never come.


If we could only remember the time,

when God walked among us—

We would not then settle for anything else.



January 26

We must make Christ our primary goal; for on those who choose Him He confers the kingdom of heaven. This means that in this present life we must rise spiritually above all things, subjecting them all to Him. We must rule not only over external things but also over the body, through our non-attachment to it, and over death, through the courage of our faith; then in the life to come we shall reign in our bodies eternally with Christ through the grace of the general resurrection. Death comes both to the righteous and to the sinner, but there is a great difference. As mortals both die, and there is nothing extraordinary in that. But the one dies without reward and possibly condemned; the other is blessed in this world and in the next.

The commandments of the Lord are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). Yet, abject as we are, we do not carry them out with any eagerness unless we are rewarded for it.

~St Peter of Damaskos

The Parable of Three Brothers & Their Trees

At a time not long ago there were three brothers who lived upon the earth. Each of the brothers had a fruit tree, planted especially for him at birth, which he was given to tend and care for throughout his life.

The first brother, as a child, loved his tree and cared for it with affection until, eventually, he grew tired of caring for the tree; and when his friends mocked him and asked him to what purpose was he wasting all his time tending to his little tree, he admitted to them and to himself that he no longer needed it. Nor did he want it. So he left the tree and went off to play with his friends.

The second brother found that caring for his tree was tedious and boring. He had little interest in his tree, but he cared for it because he believed that he should. He gave it sufficient water though he never fertilized it, or gave it any affection. Nevertheless, it grew and eventually became a serviceable tree, if not completely healthy; giving the now middle-aged man shade and protection, although it never produced any fruit.

The third brother cared for his tree as if it were his very soul. He watered it daily, fertilized and pruned it so that it grew to be a beautiful tree, full of foliage and heavy with fruit. From his tree, this brother was able to shelter and sustain himself. He derived great joy in caring for his tree and also in seeing the benefit birds and other animals derived from sheltering in its branches and sharing of its fruit. He dwelt in this way, caring for and sheltering under his tree well into his old age.

One day there came upon the land where the three brothers dwelt a scorching heat and a blistering wind.

The first brother, who had been enjoying his life of experiences and adventures, thought back upon his tree, as he sat in a café of a nearby town. Somehow he missed his tree now. He surveyed the crowded room where he sat and was perplexed and dismayed that he felt empty and alone, even here in the midst of this interesting and engaging group. His life had been about culture, novelty and games, yet now it all was meaningless and he felt a need and a yearning to find his little tree again.

At that moment, the second brother was walking past the café on his way back home from the market. The brothers met on the street and the first told the second that he was returning to his tree to find solace there in his old age. The second wished him good luck but said he too must return to his own tree and prepare to die, because the markets in town had no more food, so he would surely starve.

When the first brother returned to his tree he found that it was hardly more than a stick in the ground. Dried and shriveled leaves lay strewn across the ground below its branches. The fierce sun beat down upon its cracking bark and the wind snapped at its remaining twigs. “I have nothing now” the brother said to himself, “I will go and seek shelter and die with my brother.”

He found his brother sheltering in the shade of his own fruit tree and said, “Brother, please let me join you and also shelter under your tree and wait for death, for the sun has scorched my tree, and without water, the wind has blown all of its leaves to the ground.” The second brother then replied, “I am going to find our other brother, come with me. His tree is enormous now and is full of fruit. We will go and find shelter, as well as food, and live.”

The first two brothers found the third under the shade of his tree, eating its fruit and sharing the bounty of his tree with the birds and the other creatures of the land. “Please let us share of the soft, ripe fruit of your tree, dear brother, for we are old now and cannot eat solid food, and we have nothing else by which to live.”

“All that I have is yours, dear brothers,” he said. “All that my tree produces is for you, and you can live by it as long as God intends. Join me and let us live together in joy.”

The three brothers sat side by side under the shade of the tree and ate until they were full.

Thereafter it came time for the first brother to leave this world and he died. Not long after him the second brother also died and then finally the third.

In the afterlife, the first brother immediately found himself on an icy plain, and surprisingly, there beside him stood the remnant of his small, stickly tree, planted firmly in the ice. It was a cold place with little light and he stood shivering. From the dark corners of this place suddenly arrived many grim and evil creatures, as cold and icy as their surroundings. They descended upon his tree, as a thousand slate black crows, while a solemn voice bemoaned the brother’s lack of attention in his life to the needs of the tree, and his neglect which had stunted its growth and caused it to suffer to the point of death. The blackened creatures demanded heat to warm their cold hearts, they required this of the first brother, so he offered them his tree to use as kindling for their fire, as he cowered in the shadows. But when they lit the tree it was immediately consumed leaving nothing in its place but ashes. The multitude of demons turned on the brother and attacked him, for the dismal tree had left them lukewarm, and unfulfilled. The brother screamed in protest and for fear, as they grabbed and tore at him and lifted him upon their oily shoulders and carried him away. “If you have nothing else to give, dear brother,” they cackled sarcastically, “then we shall make you an ember and a coal, and we shall light you, to keep us warm.”

When the second brother arrived to the place the first brother had just vacated, he also was surprised to find his tree planted firmly beside him in the ice. He grew frightened and sorrowful, for he quickly understood that he had not taken his life seriously, but had only pretended to do so, to the extent that he could make a good impression, and maintain certain appearances. His tree was healthy and in full leaf, but he had never put in the added effort to allow it to flourish or to fruit. The air suddenly filled with the sound of ten thousand wings buzzing and whining, and then he heard a hollow, vacant scream. He was startled to discover that the scream was his own, as the demons landed upon his tree and filled its branches. “Give us heat, give us heat,” they screeched, “give us heat to keep us warm!” The second brother recoiled in horror, as a voice recalled to him the many evil and the many good deeds committed during his life on earth; the attention he gave his tree but also the neglect and its failure to fruit. Finally, the demons demanded their payment and their fire, yet as they lit his tree on fire, he saw a means of escape in the growing light. As his tree became a bonfire and the demons danced with glee, he dove into the flames. He was alight but not consumed and in the midst of the flame he was met by another figure who carried him away into paradise.

The third brother arrived to this place in the branches of his tree, sitting aloft, and untouched by the icy plain far below him at its base. As the voice recounted his virtues and his sins he began to weep. “Your tree was shelter and sustenance not only for yourself but also for your brothers, and all the little creatures in your care,” the voice pronounced as the demons descended and joined the brother as he sat on the branches of the tree. “Yours was a tree of service,” the voice continued, as angels began to appear amidst the branches, bringing light, power and warmth. “You were attentive to your tree, and persevering in your life,” the voice remarked as the brother continued to cry tears of sorrow, tears of fear, and tears of joy. The demons surrounding the brother grew silent, and, in the growing light and warmth radiating from the multitude of angels appearing in the tree, the demons began to recede silently into the shadows and to disappear. A river of tears flowed out from this brother’s eyes, streaming down the trunk of the tree and out across the icy plain, melting it and revealing new life as it went forth. As the light increased from the presence of a thousand, thousand brilliant angels, the last of the darkness fled and all that remained was pure light. “Your tree gave life in the former age as it will continue to do in the age to come. It was a tree of giving and of care; it has now become a tree of life eternal, and herein you shall dwell and live in peace forevermore.”