Quiet Time

By Unknown author – (2003) Icônes arabes : art chrétien du Levant, France: Institut du monde arabe (France), pp. 43 ISBN: 2914338074., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=97456759

One of the strangest Christians of all time was Simon Stylites (c. 390 – 2 September 459). He was an ascetic monk known for living on top of a pillar for over thirty years near Aleppo, Syria. Simon tried living in a monastery, but the monks kicked him out for not being social. After that, he lived in a small hut for a year and a half, but so many people came to meet with him and ask him questions that he moved on top of a pillar that had survived among ruins in nearby Telanissa (modern-day Taladah in Syria). Small boys would climb the pillar bringing him flatbread and goat’s milk to live on.

Simon moved to three different pillars. The last one was over 50 feet high. Eventually, so many pilgrims came to visit him for prayers and advice, two walls were built around his pillar to keep them at bay. Wikipedia reports:

Even on the highest of his columns, Simeon was not withdrawn from the world. If anything, the new pillar attracted even more people, both pilgrims who had earlier visited him and sightseers as well. Simeon was available each afternoon to talk with visitors. By means of a ladder, visitors were able to ascend within speaking distance. It is known that he wrote letters, the text of some of which have survived to this day, that he instructed disciples, and that he also lectured to those assembled beneath. He especially preached against profanity and usury. In contrast to the extreme austerity that he practised, his preaching conveyed temperance and compassion and was marked with common sense and freedom from fanaticism. [1]

After his death, a famous church was built around his pillar. The ruins are still there, although “On 12 May 2016, the pillar within the church reportedly took a hit from a missile, fired from what appeared to be Russian jets backing the Syrian government.”

The question we are all asking is, “Why? Why live on a one-meter square atop a 50-foot high pillar?” For the answer, I believe we can ask the mother of any preschooler who is trying to pray and study her Bible. We all could use a little quiet time, couldn’t we? But if you are rummaging around in the garage to find a ladder to climb up on the roof to find it, give me a call.

  [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simeon_Stylites

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