The story is told of two neighbors who had an identical pile of wood to cut for the winters months and who each started the task early one morning at the same time. Both men swung to with great gusto, eager to complete the task and return to the warm and cozy confines of the their homes. But one of the neighbors stepped back into his house for about five minutes every hour before returning to swing away again.
And as the day slipped toward the noon hour the man who had taken no such breaks looked over the fence to see that his neighbor had already finished his pile of wood while he had quite a bit left to split! Perplexed, he laid down his axe and walked to the fence to ask; “Neighbor, how is it that you managed to complete your pile of wood so much more quickly than me with the frequent breaks you took each hour this morning?” To this the other man replied; “Friend, when I went inside every hour I was not taking a break. I was sharpening my axe!”
This is a bit cliched these days, straight out of the Frankin-Covey school of business playbook. And it is more than a little passe in today’s business climate that prefers to replace worn-out workers with new ones for less pay than allow for time off. But the central point remains; if we don’t take the time to “sharpen our saws,” so to speak, we become dull and ineffective over time and use. As my own mother frequently cautions me; Christ Himself frequently resorted to the hill country of Judea to rest and to pray, often crossing the Sea of Galilee to get away from the noisy throngs. And if the Lord of Glory needed to rest now and again surely we are no better!
To this end, I will be leading a parish-wide retreat to the Holy Monastery of St. Paisios in Safford, AZ the weekend of February 1st through 3rd for the first 16 pilgrims who register. St. Paisios is an English-speaking monastery of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Western America under the spiritual leadership of His Grace, Bishop MAXIM, and the Gerondissa Michaila. It is a prayerful and peaceful refuge for the weary soul in need of sharpening or re-tooling. The Catholicon is stunningly beautiful where the voices of the Sisterhood rise in praise to God in the Divine Services we will celebrate together. The silent meals in the refractory with the spiritual readings feed the soul as we feed our bodies in the eucharistic ethos of the monastery where everything is received with gratitude as a gift from God.
Too frequently, we work ourselves to the point of exhaustion finding little time for prayer and contemplation on the mystery of God’s love and presence in our lives. The diabolical architecture of the world with the frenetic rhythm and pace we are made to keep makes ever more necessary such pilgrimages as this for those who would be saved and who seek to acquire the Peace of Christ in the stillness of the inner man. We are making this pilgrimage early in the New Year so that the proper tone and context can be set for the entire year and to consecrate this vital “tithe” of our time to Christ in prayer and repentance. I pray that you will join your fellow parishioners of St. George on this all-important pilgrimage.
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
Please fill out the PDF below if you are interested in joining us.