Christian, a Catholic monk, had a very close Muslim friend, Mohammed. The two of them used to pray together, even as they remained aware of their differences, as Muslim and Christian.  Aware too that certain schools of thought, both Muslim and Christian, warn against this type of prayer, fearing that the various faiths are not praying to the same God, the two of them didn’t call their sessions together prayer. Rather they imagined themselves as “digging a well together”.

One day Christian asked Mohammed: “When we get to the bottom of our well, what will we find? Muslim water or Christian water?”

Mohammed, half-amused but still deadly serious, replied: “Come on now, we’ve spent all this time walking together, and you’re still asking me this question. You know well that at the bottom of that well, what we’ll find is God’s water.”

Source | Christian de Chergé, L’invincible espérance
(Bayard 2010) 183-184

Quoted in Christian Salenson, Christian de Chergé: A Theology of Hope
(Cistercian Publications, 2012)) pages 49-50


God is always bigger than our wildest imaginings. God is beyond any definition and the moment we define God we shrink God. It has been said that God is the being whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.


There is the old story told by Edwin Abbott, a 19th century Anglican headmaster, in his book Flatland, first published in 1884 and reissued in 1984. The central character is a college professor named A squared. A2 lived in Flatland. Everything in Flatland had just two dimensions, height and length. Nothing had depth. If a friend turned sideways, you couldn’t see him. People lived in flat houses, ate flat meals, drank flat sodas, thought flat thoughts, and lived flat lives.

A2 taught higher mathematics at the university. One night, he threw a party for some of his friends. Upstairs, his precocious little son, Pentagon, tried to sleep. As he tossed on his bed, he began to dream. He dreamed a dream no one had dreamed before, that everything had not only height and length, but depth. Houses and trees and especially girls looked so different. He felt different. Life took on a whole new scope. This new dimension seemed to change everything.

Then, as unexpectedly as it had started, the dream ended.

Pentagon couldn’t sleep because he couldn’t keep the dream to himself. Before he knew it, his little bare feet hit the floor and carried him downstairs right into the middle of his father’s party. There he stood in his rumpled pajamas pouring out a dream of an unheard-of dimension. Pentagon tried to explain what depth looked like and felt like. People didn’t have to go on without it, he said, living their flat lives and thinking their flat thoughts.

A2 couldn’t hide his embarrassment. Nor could he shut Pentagon up. The party ended in a shambles. Far into the night father tried to reason with his son. But Pentagon stamped his foot and insisted that what he had dreamt was really true. The next morning the boy talked to anybody who would listen, and most thought that he had lost touch with reality. His willful fantasy agitated him and completely undid his parents. Eventually, as people did in those days, they committed him.

Now it was A2 who couldn’t sleep. In his hours of restlessness he began to wonder: maybe things can be different. Maybe there was a dimension of depth. Maybe there ought to be.

Source | Edwin A. AbbottFlatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions
Dover Publications; Unabridged edition, 1992


Are you living in Flatland?  Are you trying to ‘explain’ everything all the time,  reducing life to a superficial, two dimensional one, with no profundity? Note that the English word ‘explanation’ derives from the Latin ‘explanare’, a word that means ‘flattening out’.

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. | Ephesians 3:18


The master gave his teaching in parables and stories, which his disciples listened to with pleasure – and occasional frustration, for they longed for something deeper.

The master was unmoved. To all their objections he would say, “You have yet to understand that the shortest distance between a human being and Truth is a story.” 

Source | Anthony de Mello, One Minute Wisdom,
(Doubleday, 1986) page. 23


  • The shortest distance between a human being and Truth is a story