Abba Pachomius, a third-century monk living in the Egyptian desert, once stuck his walking stick in the ground and told a fellow monk to water the stick. The monk thought this was madness, but water the stick he did. Each day, he faithfully returned to his task, watering a walking stick in the desert. But then, one day, the stick began to sprout leaves.
This is a story traditionally told in Christian monasteries as a lesson in patience, obedience, and dedication. Who knows how long it will take, but water the stick and one day you might be watering a tree.
Amma Synclectica put it another way: A hen who does not sit on her eggs will hatch no chickens.
These sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers kept me grounded and focused while I wrote my dissertation. They kept me going when I was lost in woods of research and writing.
Water the stick… Water the stick…
I return to this often in my life to remind myself to attend to the process instead of the result. For example, if I want to be a writer, I must write. And write. And write. That’s what this blog is for.
Water the stick…. Water the stick….
Hopefully, one day, I’ll find that the stick has become a tree. But really I hope that I will find joy in the watering. That’s really the point of Abba Pachomius’ lesson: the joy is in the process.