The Conferences Of John Cassian by John Cassian
Chapter XXI. How the Evangelist John is said to have shown the value of relaxation.
It is said that the blessed John, while he was gently stroking a partridge with his hands suddenly saw a philosopher approaching him in the garb of a hunter, who was astonished that a man of so great fame and reputation should demean himself to such paltry and trivial amusements, and said: |Can you be that John, whose great and famous reputation attracted me also with the greatest desire for your acquaintance? Why then do you occupy yourself with such poor amusements?| To whom the blessed John: |What is it,| said he, |that you are carrying in your hand?| The other replied: |a bow.| |And why,| said he, |do you not always carry it everywhere bent?| To whom the other replied: |It would not do, for the force of its stiffness would be relaxed by its being continually bent, and it would be lessened and destroyed, and when the time came for it to send stouter arrows after some beast, its stiffness would be lost by the excessive and continuous strain. and it would be impossible for the more powerful bolts to be shot.| |And, my lad,| said the blessed John, |do not let this slight and short relaxation of my mind disturb you, as unless it sometimes relieved and relaxed the rigour of its purpose by some recreation, the spirit would lose its spring owing to the unbroken strain, and would be unable when need required, implicitly to follow what was right.|