Monday, April 09, 2007

Endless Worlds


The Public Library is one of my favorite places to be. The kids and I go at least once a week to return and borrow. It has become a journey through endless worlds, as though we are taking a trip together, wondering wide-eyed what we'll come across, what we'll discover.

During the past two months, I've started to borrow cookbooks. One of my favorites is called FROM A MONASTERY KITCHEN: The Classic Natural Foods Cookbook by Brother Victor-Antoine d' Avila-Latourrette.

It features recipes like :"Cloister Molasses-Apple Cake", "Epiphany Bread", "Benedictine Rhubarb and Raisin Pudding with Pentecost Cream" and other such shananagans. A thoughtful quote is printed at the bottom of each page. I have loved so many of the quotes that I thought I would write out some of the best.

" In the midst of winter, I realized that deep within me was an invincible summer." Albert Camus

"A brother who had been visiting with a hermit said, as he was taking his leave: "Forgive me, Father, for hampering you in keeping your rule." The hermit answered: "My rule is to welcome you with hospitality and to send you on your way in peace." An early desert father

"Our hope is that the winter of humanity will gradually be transformed to the bursting forth of love, for it is to this that we are called." Jean Vanier

"Fickleness and indecision are signs of self-love. If you can never make up your mind what God wills for you, but are always veering from one opinion to another...from one method to another, it may be an indication that you are trying to get around God's will and do your own with a quiet conscience. So keep still, and let God do some work." Thomas Merton

"Whatever else be lost among the years, let us keep Christmas still a shining thing." Grace N. Crowell

"To find is to seek Him unceasingly. Here, indeed, to seek is not one thing and to find another. The reward of the search is to go on searching. The soul's desire is fulfilled by the very fact of its remaining unsatisfied, for really to see God is never to have had one's fill of desiring him." Saint Gregory of Nyssa

"We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." T.S Eliot

"If you wish to put in order the inner dwelling-place of your soul, prepare the material necessary so that the heavenly architect can begin his work. In order for the dwelling to be light, so that the light of heaven can come in, there must be windows, which are our five senses. The door of the abode is Christ...who guards both the dwelling and its inhabitants." Saint Seraphim of Sarov

"It all adds up to one thing: peace, silence, solitude. The world and its noise are out of sight and far away. Forest and fields, sun and wind and sky, earth and water, all speak the same silent language." Thomas Merton

"I believe that without the impetus of love, it is not possible to begin or continue any journey of the spirit. But love, too, must know its measure and its limitations." Sister Thekla

"If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence." George Eliot

"Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles; cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances. Courage breeds creative self-affirmation; cowardice produces destructive self-abnegation. Courage faces fear and msters it; cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it. " Martin Luther King, Jr.

"God can bring summer out of winter, though we have no spring. All occasions invite his mercies, and all times are his seasons." John Donne

"The past must be abandoned to God's mercy, the present to our fidelity, and the future to divine providence." Saint Francis de Sales

"Don't think of God as a very stern judge and punisher. He is very merciful...We must not despair, for there is no sin that exceeds God's compassion. It is always the devil that brings despair; one must not listen to him." Letter from a Russian Monk

"Readings, vigils and prayer--these are the things that lend stability to the wandering mind." Evagrius Ponticus

"A person can show his religion as much in measuring onions as he can in singing 'Glory Hallelujah'." Shaker Brother

"He who sees things grow from the beginning will have the best view of them." Aristotle

"As I see it, we shall never succeed in knowing ourselves unless we seek to know God..." Saint Theresa of Avila

"Love God's young creation, love it as a whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God. Love animals, love every plant and everything. If you love everything, the mystery of God will be revealed to you in things...And finally you will love the whole universe with a comprehensive, all-embracing love." Fyodor Dostoevsky

"I like the fact that 'listen' is an anagram of 'silent'. Silence is not something that is there before the music begins and after it stops. It is the essence of the music itself, the vital ingredient that makes it possible for the music to exist at all." Alfred Brendel

"Just as water when it is squeezed on all sides shoots up above, so does the soul when it is pressed hard by dangers often rise to God to be saved." Saint John Climacus

"Monks should practice zeal with ardent love. They should anticipate one another in honor, most patiently endure one another's infirmities, whether of body or soul. Let them try to outdo eachother in obedience. Let no one do what is best for himself, but rather what is best for another." The Holy Rule of Saint Benedict

***Our family lives just down the hill from a gorgeous Benedictine Monastery. On clear, early mornings, we can hear the bells from the tower. I have always been drawn to the gentle peace and quiet of monastery grounds. Living near one is an immense gift.





The brothers are loving and welcoming. And they are accepting of children. When I was pregnant with Solomon, Alley and I would have picnics in front of "Saint Mary Lake."



I have a three-part series of pictures of her eating a banana during a sunny afternoon. In the first, she is holding a peeled banana. The second picture shows her taking an enormous, full-faced bite and the third is a wide-eyed, full-cheeked Alley with small squished pieces of banana on her chin. I hold wonderful memories from that summer with her.



When the weather allows, I take walks up the hill. I rest awhile in the light reflecting through multi-colored stained glass windows, and I breathe slowly in the silence. The fountain in the foyer tinkles in the distance like garden-party wine glasses.



I guess it is the monk in me. The "monk" in the mama, that draws me there.

When I next venture up the hill, I will take a few pictures to share.

4 comments:

AIMEE said...

I find your blog intriguing, but the blue on the brown is difficult for me to read?? Or is it my computer?? I can't make out the words well?
I saw the book title for the cookbook and put it on hold at my library...I can't wait to read it!!!!

elizabeth said...

thank you for these words. we are blessed with a great cloud of witnesses...

AIMEE said...

have you read Karen Karper's book "Where God Begins To Be: A Woman's Journey to Solitude"??? You would love it...a nun-turned-hermit autobiography...a beautiful read!

Mama Monk said...

Thanks, Aimee, for the suggestion. I will definitely add it to my list.

And elizabeth: so glad to have you visit. Wish I could see you face to face, friend.