Friday, February 26, 2016

Excerpt from The Sacred Year (Part 1)

“It’s hard to say what I was hoping for as I fled east from Vancouver toward the rolling, green farmland of the Fraser Valley. I’d never stayed at the monastery before, but several friends had highly recommended it to me, describing the quieter, more intentional life within the cloister’s walls as a sort of healing balm on all their frenzy. After everything I’d been through in the past few days, I was looking for something—anything, really—by which to buoy and anchor myself amid the turbulence.

I parked my car outside the monastery and went through a sort of curved entryway. A young monk, dressed in a black habit and reminding me of someone I knew but couldn’t place, welcomed me and offered to show me the way to my room.

As we walked the dark corridor, the silence of the place resonated all around us. We walked for quite a while, turning here and there down this hallway and that, passing the occasional black-robed monk who nodded and smiled at us but did not speak as we passed. There were no bright lights, no thudding speakers, no countdown timers, just the heartbeat of a life of work and prayer that was deeper, more substantial than words.

Suddenly I realized who the monk reminded me of. ‘Has anyone ever mentioned that you look like Luke Skywalker?’

The monk laughed and nodded. ‘It’s the habit,’ he said, pulling on the coarse material he wore. ‘You know that George Lucas modeled the Jedi Knights after real monks, don’t you?’

I thought for a moment, rearranging my mental chronology a little. ‘Of course he did,’ I said after a lengthy delay. ‘At least, I think I knew that.’

‘Here’s your room,’ the monk said, stopping beside a door. ‘Dinner will be served in the main dining hall this evening at six o’clock, but be advised that it is a silent meal. Breakfast begins every morning at six thirty, and you’re of course welcome to join us in the main chapel for any of our prayer services. But know that you are not obliged to do anything while you are here. Stay in your room the whole time, if you’d like, and rest. Or join in with the rhythms and life of this place. May I answer any questions?’

I shook my head, thankful to be welcomed as I came—unsure and overwhelmed, disoriented and confused. ‘No, I don’t have any questions at all. I’m just thankful to be here.’

‘Well,’ Luke Skywalker responded, ‘we’re glad that you’re here with us too. We welcome you in the name of Christ.’”

To be continued...

(Part 1 – Excerpt from The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski) 

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