Monastery: Day Two
I went for a walk yesterday afternoon. The foxgloves were in full chorus along the road. Purple to white to purple, like keys on a color scale singing a song I could only appreciate but not understand. Native red and yellow berries hung in various stages of ripeness. The birds were feasting. And I was feasting, but not eating.
I try to keep the monastery rule of one meal a day while I am here. I figure I have taken the effort to come, so I might as well enroll for the whole program. Not that there is really a program; it's just that I want to fit into the cycle of the brother's life so that at as many levels as is possible I might share in some of the Grace God has given them. My visits are infrequent, but I find that the Grace lasts a long time--like a sliver of sweet candy that I hide under my tongue that melts very slowly. The flavors of this candy are the various memories: of a feeling, of a word, of a loving or meaningful or pregnant glance. But to understand, to begin to understand, what is said and done, I have also to understand what is not said, what is not done; what is not said or not done in the same love and with the same pregnancy. Like the berries along the road, the seed is hidden in the sweetness.
For bible study this morning, the brothers read the betrayal of Christ in Mark's Gospel. One brother noted that Judas waited for a convenient time to betray Jesus while the other disciples, in order to find the place for the Last Supper, had to obey Christ, trusting his Word against their own uncertainty, and look for the donkey and colt which required a miracle for their master to let go. Is not one of the lessons of this passage that convenience has no bearing on God's plan and that convenience, as a criterion, may indeed lead to betrayal? Faithfulness, on the other hand, generally entails inconvenience: obedience, searching, faith, a miracle.
Instead of tea today, one of the brothers made me "Russian tea without the tea." He finely chopped a piece of a green apple and put it in a mug of hot water with honey and a little lemon. It was like heaven. I drank it as slowly as possible because I didn't want it to end.