Abba Zeno and the cucumber


V.iv.17. Once when abba Zeno was travelling in Palestine he sat down after work by a cucumber patch to eat his meal. A thought arose in his mind, “Pick a cucumber and eat it. It wouldn’t matter much, would it.”

To this thought he replied, “Thieves are condemned to torment. Find out first whether you would be able to bear such torment.”
So he got up and stood in the sun for five days, becoming thoroughly dehydrated, until he said to himself, “I can’t bear this torment.” His better judgment then said to him, “If you can’t bear torment then you had better not steal in order to eat.” End.

From: DE VITIS PATRUM, Libellus 4: Self Control


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