It is not so easy to be a holy man. Some things are sweet, simple. In the morning, waking and washing in the cold creek. Singing to the chickens. Walking up the steep narrow path to the cave shrine. Lighting candles. Every day dropping quietly one after the other, a rosary of this time in my life.

It is the other time that makes it sting. The time before, hanging like smoke in front of my eyes, pulling at my throat. I dream about home, my dreams do not find home in the stone walls where I pray. My dreams go home to firelight and laughter, red wine, warm bricks under heavy blankets. In my dreams I cry like a child, not holy, just lost, like any pilgrim on any road, anywhere.

While I believed at one time that contemplation could only be good for the soul, I am coming now to see it as a selfishness. I have watched my world contract, tightening around me until it seems that my very skin must burst.


2 Responses to “Hermit”

  1. 1 Elizabeth January 29, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Yeah, and have you seen “Into Great Silence?” It documents life in a monastery in France. There is no voice-over, no interviews, just a camera watching the monks in the cold. For 2 freaking hours and 40 minutes! I thought I could handle it, a vicarious meditation experience, I thought. But eventually it began to seem that the monks were, if not exactly “selfish,” too turned-inward. I began to realize that language is not a virus, but a holy path to connection. Speech therapists our new priests?

  2. 2 Teresa January 29, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Elizabeth – Oddly, I have been doing therapy in a convent for the past month or so, where (in the context of dementia and related struggles) meditation and prayer gradually flattens out into the disappointment and anger of isolation (v. solitude). Challenging. I’m not sure I’m performing status quo in my field, though. Seem to be exploring some interesting limits. I would not look for salvation in your speech therapy stable.

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