This is a classic quote, which strikes at the core of a ‘monastic’ approach to life:
“A brother was troubled in his solitude. He went to see Abba Theodore about it. The old man said to him, ‘Go, be more humble in your aspirations, place yourself under obedience and live with others.’
Later, he came back to the old man and said, ’I do not find peace with others.’ The old man said to him, ‘If you are not at peace either alone or with others, why have you become a monk ? Is it not to suffer trials? Tell me how many years you have worn the habit ?’
He replied, ‘For eight years.’
Then the old man said to him, ‘I have worn the habit for seventy years and on no day have I found peace. Do you expect to find peace in eight years ?’
At these words the brother went away strengthened.”
Sayings of the Desert Fathers, alphabetical collection. Translated by Benedicta Ward. Mowbrays. 1975/77. p 63. ISBN 0 264 661 249.