Dorotheos of Gaza: Discourses and Sayings. Chapter 20 Reply to Certain Hermits Who Asked Him About Holding Meetings
Before I left for seminary I asked my bishop if he had any last minute advice. He told me, “be the honeybee.” He said that bees land on the beautiful flowers and drink nectar and make honey. Flies land on poop. Be the honeybee and extract what is good and leave the poop for the flies.
In this chapter, Dorotheos teaches about focusing on and acquiring a positive disposition. Through our disposition, our state of mind, we can gain some benefit.
It was said about Abba Anthony that when he was visiting the brethren, whatever good he saw in each he set about to acquire for himself. From one he picked up self-control, from another humility, from another hard work, from another serenity. And so he found to have in himself the good that he found in each of the others. (Page 246) Abba Anthony was the Honeybee.
A certain man happened one night to be in a certain place. Three men passed by him. One thought he was waiting for a streetwalker; another thought he was a thief; and the third thought he had been invited by a friend to meet at a neighboring house and they were going off somewhere to say some prayers. You see all three men saw the same man in the same place and, similarly, each one thought his own thoughts about him. One thought one thing, another another, and the third something else, each one according to his own state of mind. (Page 246)
Suppose I have a pot of honey and someone adds a little absinth, does that little spoil the flavor of the lot and make it bitter all through? This is what we do when we throw a little of our own bitterness and sully the good name of our neighbor by looking at him through the window of our own bad dispositions. (Page 247)
Those who have habitually good dispositions are like a man whose bodily temperament is so healthy that even if he should eat something harmful it turns into health-giving body fluids and the unsuitable food does not harm him. (Page 247)
I heard about a certain brother who, if he saw that his cell was uncared for and disorderly when he went to consult any of the brethren, used to say to himself, “Happy indeed is this brother! How free from care about many things, or rather, about all earthly things, and he so fixes his whole mind on high so that he has no leisure to put his cell in order.” And again, if he came on another and saw his cell in good order, clean, beautiful, he used to say to himself, “The soul of this brother must be as clean and well-kept as his cell, for the good state of the soul must be represented by the good state of his cell.” He never said about anyone, “This man is uncouth or that one is vainglorious,” but on account of his own habitual good disposition he took edification from each one. (Page 248)
May God, who is so good, give us these good dispositions, that we also may gain some benefits form every single person, and never think badly of our neighbor. And even if our own condition makes us think, or suddenly suspect, something evil of our neighbor, let us quickly change out thoughts into something kind and beautiful. For not to see evil in our brother generates, with God’s help, that goodness which is well pleasing to God, to whom be glory and honor for ever and ever. Amen. (Page 248)