But peace, too, is a living thing and like all life it must wax and wane, accommodate, withstand trials, and undergo changes. Such was the case with the peace Josephus Famulus enjoyed. It was unstable, visible one moment, gone the next, sometimes near as a candle carried in the hand, sometimes as remote as a star in the wintry sky. And in time a new and special kind of sin and temptation more and more often made life difficult for him. It was not a strong, passionate emotion such as indignation or a sudden rush of instinctual urges. Rather, it seemed to be the opposite. It was a feeling very easy to bear in its initial stages, for it was scarcely perceptible; a condition without any real pain or deprivation, a slack, luke-warm, tedious state of the soul which could only be described in negative terms as a vanishing, a waning, and finally a complete absence of joy. There are days when the sun does not shine and the rain does not pour, but the sky sinks quietly into itself, wraps itself up, is gray but not black, sultry, but not with the tension of an imminent thunderstorm. Gradually, Joseph's days became like this as he approached old age. Less and less could he distinguish the mornings from the evenings, feast days from ordinary days, hours of rapture from hours of dejection. Everything ran sluggishly long in limp tedium and joylessness. This is old age, he thought sadly. He was sad because he had expected aging and the gradual extinction of his passions to bring a brightening and easing of his life, to take him a step nearer to harmony and mature peace of soul, and now age seemed to be disappointing and cheating him by offering nothing but this weary, gray, joyless emptiness, this feeling of chronic satiation. Above all he felt sated: by sheer existence, by breathing, by sleep at night, by life in his cave on the edge of the little oasis, by the eternal round of evenings and mornings, by the passing of travelers and pilgrims, camel riders and donkey riders, and most of all by the people who came to visit him, by those foolish, anxious, and childishly credulous people who had this craving to tell him about their lives, their sins and their fears, their temptations and self-accusations. Sometimes it all seemed to him like the small spring of water that collected in its stone basin in the oasis, flowed through grass for a while, forming a small brook, and then flowed on out into the desert sands, where after a brief course it dried up and vanished. Similarly, all these confessions, these inventories of sins, these lives, these torments of conscience, big and small, serious and vain, all of them came pouring into his ear, by the dozens, by the hundreds, more and more of them. But his ear was not dead like the desert sands. His ear was alive and could not drink, swallow, and absorb forever. It felt fatigued, abused, glutted. It longed for the flow and splashing of words, confessions, anxieties, charges, self-condemnations to cease; it longed for peace, death, and stillness to take the place of this endless flow.