“My own awareness of my failure and weakness is indispensable to my communicating the gospel to my neighbour. I put the neighbour in touch with God by a particular kind of detachment from him or her…. The desert monastics are keenly interested in diagnosing what sort of things get in the way here, what things count as blocking someone else’s relation with Christ. They seem very well aware that one of the greatest temptations of religious living is the urge to intrude betwen God and other people. We love to think that we know more of God than others; we find it comfortable and comforting to try and control the access of others to God…. The desert teachers are well aware that by fleeing to the isolation of prayerful communities they do not automatically leave behind this deep-rooted longing to manage the access of other people to God… One of the most frequent ways n which this becomes visible, they suggest, is inattention, the failure to see what is truly there in front of us - because our own vision is clouded by self-obsession or self-satisfaction…. And the desert literature suggests pretty consistently that excessive harshness - readiness to judge and prescribe - normally has its roots in that kind of inattention to ourselves. Abba Joseph responds to the invitation to join condemning someone by saying, ‘Who am I?’ And the phrase might suggest not just ‘Who am I to be judging?’ but ‘How can I pass judgment when I don’t know the full truth about myself?’”
From Rowan Williams, Silence and Honey Cakes: The Wisdom of the Desert (Oxford: Medio Media, 2003), pp. 25-26.