Chasing the rabbit

Father Stephen recounts an evocative story from the Desert Fathers, set in the context of the Gospel According to John (1:14 “we have beheld his glory”) and John’s first epistle (1:1 et seq: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life — the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it”). The story is the perfect conclusion — indeed, could almost stand alone:

There is a story from the Desert Fathers about a young monk who asked one of the holy men of the desert why it is that so many people came out to the desert to seek God and yet most of them gave up after a short time and returned to their lives in the city.

The old monk responded:

“Last evening my dog saw a rabbit running for cover among the bushes of the desert and he began to chase the rabbit, barking loudly. Soon other dogs joined the chase, barking and running. They ran a great distance and alerted many other dogs. Soon the wilderness was echoing the sounds of their pursuit but the chase went on into the night.

After a little while, many of the dogs grew tired and dropped out. A few chased the rabbit until the night was nearly spent. By morning, only my dog continued the hunt.”

“Do you understand,” the old man said, “what I have told you?”

“No,” replied the young monk, “please tell me, father.”

“It is simple,” said the desert father, “my dog saw the rabbit!”