A Little Monastery, Monasticism

Death in the Little Monastery

Last week we lost our pet hamster, Everest.  She was our youngest daughter’s friend, and she’s passed on to the big hamster wheel in the sky, so to speak.

We found her dead in her cage while our daughter Miss Bouncy was finishing up with bath time, so I made a coffin out of half of a toothpaste box, filled it with pretty gift tissue paper, and wrapped it with white paper.  After bath-time Miss Bouncy came out and we had to explain to her that Everest had died and that she needed to say her goodbye.  So, she drew a nice picture of her and Everest on the coffin, and the other children wrote their names on the base of it, and we let her hold Everest’s body for a little while and then placed Everest in her resting place and closed the lid.  Miss Bouncy didn’t want to bury her just yet, so we let her sleep with Everest next to her bed and then buried her the next day next to our Japanese Maple tree, at the Easter edge of our property.  Everyone agreed it was a good spot.  So, I said a couple of words, Miss Bouncy said a couple of words, and then we placed Everest in the hole and covered her up and that was that.



Easter Sonnet

Within the blackness of the night His body lies at rest
Alone within His catacomb, amidst the quiet chill
His skin is pale and bled of life, no air’s within His chest
He lies in state, forsook by God, within the lonely hill
She weeps within the waning night, alone before the morn
When death is at its blackest tide and hope’s forever lost
But when the pitch is at its peak the dawn is at its bourn
And when despair is at its end there’s light to melt the frost
A ray is cast upon the tomb; the stone is split and rolled
And death is turned upon its head, defeated by the Cross
The Lion stands within His How and strides upon His Wold
Victorious in life and death, in laughter, pain, and loss
He comes to save His enemies with grace and love and death
In love He’s raised in human blood, in human life and breath


Doors of the Mind

Perhaps the greatest faculty our minds possess is the ability to cope with pain. Classic thinking teaches us of the four doors of the mind, which everyone moves through according to their need.

First is the door of sleep. Sleep offers us a retreat from the world and all its pain. Sleep marks passing time, giving us distance from the things that have hurt us. When a person is wounded they will often fall unconscious. Similarly, someone who hears traumatic news will often swoon or faint. This is the mind’s way of protecting itself from pain by stepping through the first door.

Second is the door of forgetting. Some wounds are too deep to heal, or too deep to heal quickly. In addition, many memories are simply painful, and there is no healing to be done. The saying ‘time heals all wounds’ is false. Time heals most wounds. The rest are hidden behind this door.

Third is the door of madness. There are times when the mind is dealt such a blow it hides itself in insanity. While this may not seem beneficial, it is. There are times when reality is nothing but pain, and to escape that pain the mind must leave reality behind.

Last is the door of death. The final resort. Nothing can hurt us after we are dead, or so we have been told.


Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind


Alone and Naked in the Light

I’ve lost the language I’ve always known; so much of my faith is unintelligible to me now. Its phrases, concepts and poetry just confuse me. I feel muted. At a loss for words I never knew I had lost. A mind that craves certainty is left gasping, choking on its fears, grasping for any kind of lifeline. I am left groping in the realms of mystery and ambiguity; swimming, drowning in the sea of the primordial wherefore.


My mind has failed me. I melt upon the freezing cobblestones, naked in the dark light, alone before the maw. I need something deeper, something more interconnected. More holistic, natural and earthy.


I grew up denouncing the mystics and pagans, turning an ignorantly blind eye to my own rationalistic biblicism. We huddled in the barn, terrified of the Lion and we missed-out on the joys of that Far Country. I’m tired of missing out, of fearing. I wanna live, dammit.


For death lives in me and I am dead on the vine, a misbegotten corpse hung in the noose of belief, burning up before the sullen, scalding glare of the light. I breath ash, I sweat blood, I move myself inexorably deeper into the eternal quicksand.


I lie squashed beneath the heels of so many feet, a godforsaken bug, broken and alone in my asphalt hell.


(featured image source)