A Time to Keep Silence

Dear Gabriel,

As I walked down towards my village in the dark last night, the scene was timeless. There was no traffic on the lane – only a few dotted yellow lights. The hills were open and empty under the pale mist. I could have been a shepherd watching his sheep on a hillside a thousand years ago. And that small yellow light below was a lantern at the door of a cattle shed long ago.

Today we heard of the words of the Prophetess Anna from Luke 2:36-40:

She came by first at that moment and began to praise God, and she spoke of the child to all that looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

I am reading again Patrick Leigh Fermor’s A Time to Keep Silence. At the end of the book he visits La Grande Trappe, the founding Trappist Monastery in France. The life of the monks there is unbelievably austere. They rise at 1 or 2 am, after just six hours sleep, and start over 6 hours a day in the chapel. No heating, constant backbreaking labour in the fields, yet the monks are gloriously content.

He describes one:

The first was the guest master, the young, auburn haired monk who was responsible for the part of the abbey where I lived: a young man of extreme good looks , great charm and a glare of the most disarming integrity and friendliness. He was surrounded by an aura of composure and peace rarely encountered among laymen.

I have always found this when staying in a monastery. After a few days, one is filled, for no obvious reason, with a great feeling of acceptance and just happiness. One just goes to bed confidentally happy. I think it is the leaving behind of all the fake friends of power, money, want, self regaurd and of becoming so much nearer to God.

“God is light; there is no darkness in him at all.” St. John 1:5-22.