Sayings of the Desert Fathers

It was said about John the Little that one day he said to his
older brother: I want to be free from care and not to work but to
worship God without interruption. And he took his robe off, and
went into the desert. After staying there one week, he returned to
his brother. And when he knocked at the door, his brother asked
without opening it: Who is it? He replied: It’s John, your
brother. The brother said: John has become an angel and is not
among people anymore. Then he begged and said: It’s me! But his
brother did not open the door and left him there in distress until
the next morning. And he finally opened the door and said: If you
are a human being, you have to work again in order to live. Then
John repented, saying: Forgive me, brother, for I was wrong.

11. Usefulness of Nothing

The thirty spokes of a carriage wheel
uniting at the nave
are made useful by the hole in the center
where nothing exists.
Vessels of molded earth
are useful by reason of their hollowness.
Doors and windows
are useful by being cut out.
A house is useful because of its emptiness.
Thus we use what is not
to make use of what is.