Paul of Thebes and Antony of Egypt (see January 17th) are remembered as the first to retreat into the Egyptian desert. It was a time of persecution, and Paul may have been expected to find a way back into the life of society, but he stayed in the desert, living to well over a hundred, and was buried there by Antony.

Take me to the desert when it is Your desire, O Lord, that I may be driven deeper into You. You know the places where we can be alone together – it probably won’t be in the Sahara or the Kalahari – but wherever is right, meet me and let me not be afraid to meet myself as I meet You. Remake me, refresh me, give me new courage, and send me on my way to do Your will. Amen.