Thursday, April 4, 2013
in the silence......................
From a side door, walking softly towards a nearby chair,I enter the abbey church.Built by Trappist monks over a half century ago; by hand and with thousands of wheelbarrows of cement in the hot Georgia sun.
Plain white walls,arches to the wooden vaulted ceiling.Handmade stained glass windows ,stripes of blue,red,pink.No pattern.And some by the altar,golden and white.The sun is shining through them now,brilliantly.
At the foot of the altar are pots of lilies and above, on a stand,a tall, stark white Paschal candle with two stripes in the middle in deep blue.Next to it ,an astonishingly deep blue orchid.I have never seen anything like it .Above all is a plain wooden cross,suspended from the high ceiling.If I came for beauty,I have found it.
For 50 years, monks have gathered in this sublime setting of white,wood and light to praise God five times a day.The praying is the structure in which they live.They chant soft psalms, a scripture is read aloud and then time is spent on the Word.The rest of the day is spent is silence.
At vespers,the Amens come slowly as if to tell us that this praying is of utmost importance and should not be rushed.I take note.
The shrouded monks chanting,participation in the Mass and silence hold them aloft in their day so that God is never far from their thoughts.This other-worldly living has an affect that is not hard to notice when I encountered one of the monks in the gift shop.He, with his child-like benevolence and gleaming eyes.He is slow and smiling at the register and no one cares.Intuitively those of us waiting think that this is how it should be and we inwardly join his pace.
I am reminded of a Franciscan monk who worked in the gift shop by a church in Assisi.I purchased a small item and he took my hands as he handed me the change.He was bent and bald in his poor brown robe,but his eyes,those eyes, so full of love, held my gaze and I knew that such extraordinary love was possible and where it came from.
This is what I sought in the silence.