from the Desert Fathers
There were three brothers, one ancient story tells us. One of them decided that his mission would be to bring people to reconciliation, the second decided he would visit the sick, while the third went to the desert to live in silence. The first, finding himself constantly between conflicting sides, did not succeed in bringing about peace and therefore was himself in distress. He came to the second and found him also in deep despondency. Together they went to the third brother and asked him whether he had achieved anything in his desert. Instead of an answer, the hermit poured some water into a chalice and invited his brothers to look at it: the water was so turbid that nothing could be seen in it. After a short time the hermit invited his guests to look again: the water settled and became transparent enough for them to see their faces reflected on its surface. The hermit then said: ʻSomeone who lives among the passions and cares of the world will always be perturbed by thoughts, while a hermit contemplates God in stillnessʼ.
Having withdrawn from the palace to the solitary life, abba Arsenius prayed and heard a voice saying to him, “Arsenius, flee, be silent, pray always, for these are the source of sinlessness.”