Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lest We Toil in Vain

Daniel used to say that Arsenius told him a story, as if he were speaking of some other man, and it went like this: Whilst a certain hermit was sitting in his cell, a voice came to him which said, "Come here, and I will show you the works of the children onf men."

So, he got up and went out. The voice led him out and showed him a man cutting wood; he made up a large bundle and wanted to take it away, but he could not do so. Then, instead of making the bundle smaller, he went and cut down some more wood, and added it to the first, and this he did many times.

When he had gone on a little further, the voice showed him a man who was standing by a pit drawing up water; he poured it out into a certain hollowed out place, and when he had poured the water into it, it ran back into the pit.

Again the voice said to him, "Come, and I will show you other things."

Then he looked, and, behold, there was a temple, and two men on horseback were carrying a piece of wood as wide as the temple between them. They wanted to go in through the door, but the width of the wood did not let them do so, and they would not humble themselves to go in one after his companion to bring it in end-wise, and so they remained outside the door.

Now these are the men who bear the yoke of righteousness with boasting, and they will not be humble enough to correct themselves and go in by the humble way of Christ, and therefore they remain outside the kingdom of God.

The man who was cutting wood is the man who labors at many sins, and who, instead of repenting and diminishing his sins, adds other wickednesses to them.

Now he who was drawing water is the man who does good works, but because other things are mingled in his good works they are lost.

It is right for us to be watchful in all we do, lest we toil in vain.

~~The Wood Cutter by Kasimir Malevich (1878-1935).

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