—–Abba Poeman of the Desert
I am sure that the wise monk was telling his fellow monastics that they should flee from a community where they felt a great deal of jealousy aimed at them. Such advice was very helpful for hermits and monastics of the 7th century, but not easy for 21st century Christians. Few among us can just pack up and leave when we feel a sense of jealously from our neighbors or church community, because we live in a much different world. The Abba’s advice is very helpful to us if we begin to see “place” as an interior decision. Place can be defined as a feeling or perception held by people and not a geographical location. With this concept, we have the freedom to leave a place of jealousy and envy for a new place of freedom and love. As we allow ourselves to be carried away from the worry of what others think to the world of what God thinks we can make tremendous progress.
Too many people spend too much time in a place that is riddled by jealousy, envy, competition and not enough time in the grace of God. Let me assert to you that if your life is stuck there, you will not progress spiritually. The Abba says, leave! We depart that interior place by concentrating on the gifts and graces that so freely flow from God, and allowing all this other stuff to just die. Perhaps it is impossible to live in a physical place that is free from jealousy, but it is possible to pray your way to a spiritual place where victory is won.