A bunch of grapes in the desert

From Helen Waddell’s The Desert Fathers – in the History of the Monks of Egypt, translated from the Greek by Rufinus of Aquileia (pg. 80). Her introduction and selections try to rehumanize the early monks by swapping focus from the excesses of someone like Simeon Stylites to the simple kindness and community of the mass of brothers.

They tell that once a certain brother brought a bunch of grapes to the holy Macarius: but he who for love’s sake thought not on his own things but on the things of others, carried it to another brother, who seemed more feeble. And the sick man gave thanks to God for the kindness of his brother, but he too thinking more of his neighbour than of himself, brought it to another, and he again to another, and so that same bunch of grapes was carried round all the cells, scattered as they were far over the desert, and no one knowing who first had sent it, it was brought at last to the first giver. But the holy Macarius gave thanks that he had seen in the brethren such abstinence and such loving-kindness and did himself reach after still sterner discipline of the life of the spirit.

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