Starting in the third century-and continuing for another 350 years-many Christian men and women went to live in the hazardous desert environment of the Middle East. These daring Christians came to the deserts of Egypt, Palestine, Arabia, Syria, and modern-day Turkey seeking an unobstructed closeness to God. Intoxicated by God and repelled by their sociopolitical context, these desert fathers and mothers-abbas and ammas-endured an austere existence designed to encourage humility before God.
As odd as their customs may seem to contemporary Christians, many of the spiritual practices we cherish today actually trace their roots to this movement. The goal of this retreat is to spend a day exploring the fascinating and curious lives of the desert mothers and fathers and to consider ways we might wish to emulate them in modern life.
The morning session (through pre-arranged lighthearted role-play interviews) focuses on the history of the desert abbas and ammas. In the afternoon session, participants engage in a short reflective study of Scripture and then break into small groups for a discussion of the challenging practices of love found among desert mothers and fathers.
This retreat is for adults who wish to deepen their spiritual lives. The study content is adapted from The Thoughtful Christian study "Desert Fathers and Mothers."