I’ve been thinking on the incongruity of sharing a name with the saint who went into the desert to wrestle demons and aloneness and thereby work out salvation. I sat at an oval window this morning and looked on the sunfired clouds below and wondered into what wilderness I am once again hurtling, and whether deserts and night things are better than the loneliness of crowds.
Does each of us trudge with hesitant feet into the uncharted terrain of his own longing? Is there some silent place of the soul that all must cross if they are to know and be known? Must communion be counterpoised with solitude before it can have weight, become more than symbol and sentiment?
I think I’ve spent most days where cracked pavement meets scorched sand, between community and desert, afraid of each for different reasons, or maybe the same reasons going by different names. And I wonder, sitting at this dimly lit desk, in a room that will have me guessing where I am in the dark hours of morning, if the path home is across the sand. I wonder if we can never really be with anyone until we can be without them, or simply with ourselves.
I have friends who pray to saints and friends who think this is apostasy, but as for me, I need every prayer a living man or dead saint can offer. This is why sometimes I whisper to Saint Anthony, that he will pray for me, or at least put in a good word. I don’t know bleached sand or cracked lips or the touch of demons, but some nights, like this one, I think I know something close to them. And I imagine maybe he and I, two Anthonys separated by time and saintliness and sin, have both waited for morning, if only because it isn’t the night. And we give bleary-eyed thanks when it comes.