As I explored the ancient regions of Cappadocia and walked gingerly into the seven cave churches, I found some delightful insights. I found that it was not St George alone who fought the dragon but he was ably assisted by another warrior and horseman, St Theodore! Now there be very few who know that my second name is just that, and it was only the insistence of the Aadhar card that brought Theodore out of the cupboard, and now find Theo should have got the same amount of fame as George, but unfortunately he didn’t make it to the hall of fame but just managed being a painting in a cave!
Let’s leave my namesake Theo for a bit, and go to what else I discovered in them caves: Throughout the ages, man searches for enlightenment, and quite often gaining such, he retreats into the mountains and enjoys his newfound peace solely by himself. In Cappadocia I found that before the caves became churches the early Christians converts, finding such absolute peace in the teachings of Christ and his divine presence in their hearts retreated to enjoy this enlightenment all by themselves in a cave as a hermit. Then came the guilty realization, that their duty was also to share this joy and absolute peace with others. And thus, their hermit abodes were enlarged, and became churches so more and more believers could share in the hermit’s glorious enlightenment.
Strangely, such behavior still exists and the selfish Christian hermits of today, could easily fill all the caves of Cappadocia and a few.
These modern hermits start religious organizations or churches, but govern the board themselves or have handpicked trustees made up of yes men or women. What happens when they do that?
They stop building leaders.
A vibrant religious trust is brimming with spiritual energy from members who with zeal and enthusiasm want to take the fire that Jesus brought through a rugged cross, and spread the same till it becomes a raging bonfire of spiritual activity.
What happens when these modern hermits hold their trusts close to their possessive chests is that unlike a raging bonfire, all they have are smouldering embers which they fan every now and then during Christmas, and otherwise useful only as a letterhead with their name embossed on it.
I look into the interior of the caves, even now after a thousand years I feel the energy and passion of the early Christians, and know that it was through the sharing of the spiritual fire that over two billion the world over share that joy today.
Just like St George needed St Theodore to kill the dragon, we need fresh young blood and new ideas to fill the world with the joy and peace our Saviour gives.
Stop being a hermit, broaden your cave..!
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