BBC Prayer for the Day – Simeon the Stylite

Good morning.

Today is the feast day in the western church of a rather odd saint – Simeon the Stylite who is famous most of all for living for thirty nine years on a small platforms at the top of a pillar.

Simon was the greatest of the saints whose asceticism drove them to what seems to us a most strange and extreme existence. We find ourselves wondering whether he was really living a life of creative holiness or whether he was just living a life that was just plain crazy. Was it really a life of devotion that he lived at the top of his pillar or was his mind so troubled that it quite literally drove him up the pole?

It is said that Simeon’s lofty existence was a hiding place from the crowds of people who sought out his counsel. He was renowned as someone both holy and wise and so many people sought him out that he felt driven to climb up his pillar out of their way. He was seeking, no doubt, to ensure that fame and influence (for he had wide renown) never took him away from his first love – devotion to God. Paradoxically, his retreat from the hurly burly of everyday life just made the world beat a path to the base of his pillar. Indeed, that place is still visited today when local life is peaceful enough to make pilgrimage possible.

How far are we prepared to go to find a peaceful place where we can hear the voice of God? What disruption to our comfort are we prepared to endure in order to get in touch with our inner soul?

Loving God, teach us to search for you and in searching, to find you. Amen.

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