Wednesday, August 8, 2012
I’m reading Carlo Carretto again (Letters from the Desert), an intimate work that follows Carretto’s feet and mind into the desert of North Africa.
He had been very active in the Church for many years, and quite suddenly he hears God call him to leave it all behind in his homeland of Italy and follow God into the desert.
At one point towards the beginning of the book, he is contemplating his earnest, dedicated labors and activity in the church back home, his practice of running “continually from one project to another, from one meeting to another, from one city to another”. While involved in all of that, he had been operating on a worldview that went something like this: God created the world and then stepped aside to rest; Christ founded the Church and then disappeared in to heaven to let the Church save the world. Carretto says he imagined that his frenzied life and work were somehow part of the column that was holding everything up and everything together.
I drew back suddenly, as though to fee myself from this weight. What had happened? Everything remained in its place, motionless. Not a movement, not a sound. After twenty-five years I had realized that nothing was burdening on my shoulders and that the column was my own creation—sham, unreal, the product of my own imagination and my vanity.
I had walked, run, spoken, organized, worked, in the belief that I was supporting something; and in reality I had been holding up absolutely nothing.
The weight of the world was all on Christ Crucified. I was nothing, absolutely nothing.
What amazing relief…to know that it does not depend on me. May I never again be suckered into the “sham, unreal…product of my own imagination and vanity.”
(All quotations taken from: Carretto, Carlos. “You are Nothing.” Letters from the Desert. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2002.)