Monday, January 7, 2019

Running on Water

Came across a story by writer and philosopher Leo Tolstoy that very much resonates with me.

A devoutly ambitious orthodox bishop takes an inspection tour of his diocese. He hears of three pious monks living on an island in a lake and takes a boat to visit them. The monks turn out to have no knowledge at all of scripture and Christian doctrine. Patiently the bishop seeks to teach them, but finally he has to settle only for teaching them the Lord’s Prayer; they are too simple to learn anything more.

The bishop departs with some doubt over the genuineness of their new-found faith. As his boat leaves the island for the mainland, in the distance he sees three figures moving towards him. As they come closer he sees that they are the three monks from the island, running across the water to catch him.

The monks climb into the boat and admit that they have already forgotten the Lord’s Prayer. The bishop falls on his face before them and says that they are holier men than he is, for they truly are in God. They need not concern themselves with such matters as creeds and doctrines, for they already know God directly.

The three monks return to their island, still running on the water, and the bishop goes his way, realizing that to be in God is more than any intellectual understanding of Him.

I too have always preferred a direct experience with the Universal Creator over any intermediary religious perception of scripture with its creeds and doctrines by some holy potentate. The mountains have always been my sanctuary, and trail running my prayer. Why should I go to church on Sunday when every meal is a sacrament of the wonderful bounty of the natural world I find myself immersed in? I celebrate every moment, but unlike the monks, I generally refrain from running on water when anyone is looking.

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