While advancing toward the uncreated light I heard this voice one day, "Huloo! Anyone in here?"
I don't usually get visitors of any kind. Occasionally another brother will stop by with some bread or to hear my confession. When I saw this visitor, though, he was quite unusual—he wore a suit and tie and was carrying a canister with a long neck and hose.
"Good afternoon," he smiled, "You look like someone in need of a high quality vacuum."
"What does this vacuum do?"
"Well," replied the visitor, "It sucks up dirt to keep your whole house clean."
I know that I should greet all visitors with warmth and kindness, but I couldn't resist sarcasm, "I live in a cave, with a dirt floor."
Undaunted he replied, "Let me plug it in and show you how powerful this baby is."
Some people just don't get it, "I live in a cave, with a dirt floor. I have no electricity."
"Not only is this a vacuum, but it also has a filter to purify the air," the man added, "It's also a wet vac so you can suck up any spills."
"Sir, you aren't listening," I could feel annoyance welling up within me, "I live in a cave. I have a dirt floor. I have no electricity. My air is fine. I will not be needing your device."
"But it's only..."
I interrupted, "I am a hermit. A monk. I have no money."
"You could try it for thirty days free of charge, and only pay if you decide to keep it."
"Are you the devil?" I asked him.
"What?" I guess I finally shook him from his sales pitch.
"Are you a devil sent here to tempt me? Only the devil would come here all dressed up trying to sell me something I don't need. Are you trying to tempt me by showing me what I left behind in the world? Are you mocking me? I am content with my cave and the dirt floor. My poverty does not bother me since I am fed like Elias by the birds of the air. If you are a mere man I will gladly pray for you, but I have no need for your vacuum."
"Did I mention the lifetime warranty? I'll even throw in two extra HEPA filters at no charge."
Anger bubbled up within me. This man must be a demon. Trembling I sat down in front of my icon corner. I slowly breathed a prayer fumbling with my prayer rope, hoping he would go away, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Lord Jesus Christ..."
I made it all the way around my prayer rope when I heard his voice, "It looks like I caught you at a bad time. I'll leave my business card here, so if you want to think about it, or talk to the lady of the house, you can give me a call when you make a decision."
There is an inner silence that can only be achieved by force, that is, by conquering the passions. Just when I think I've achieved it, something or someone comes along to test it. I am reminded that despite the greatest effort the journey is not over. Each trial serves to make me stronger.
This place could use a bit of cleaning, even if it is just a cave with a dirt floor.
~David Samuel Thomas