Today’s reading answers the question often asked by many: which is more important the inner work or the outer? the life of contemplation or the life of service?
V.x.11. This same abba Agathon was asked, “Which is the more important, manual labour or interior watchfulness?” The abba said, “A human being is like a tree. Manual labour is like the leaves, interior watchfulness is like the fruit. Therefore, as Scripture says, ‘Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.’ (Matt 3.10) So we ought to take every possible care of the good fruit in ourselves, that is, watchfulness of the mind. But we do need our outward leafy covering, that is our manual work”
Abba Agathon was a wise and thoughtful person, a diligent workman, thorough in all he did, keen and reliable in his manual work, sparing in food and clothing.
From: DE VITIS PATRUM, BOOK V, Libellus 10:Discretion