Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Mystery Monk - Tree Hugger

Mystery Monk was perplexed, so he decided to seek the advice of the Abbot.
"What's your view on tree hugging?" He asked.
Now the Abbot was perplexed. "I am a great fan of trees, they change with the seasons, they show signs of new life, they are mentioned many times in the good book, but I have to admit I have never hugged one.... Climbed many, does that count as hugging?" Mystery Monk looked at the Abbot with new respect.
"I was young once you know," he smiled, "Why do you ask about tree hugging?"
"I read an article that says hugging trees improves mental health, and I wondered how much of that was spiritual."
"That's an interesting question, and there is a subtle difference between worshipping the creator, and worshipping creation, but it is a nuance that most people wouldn't quite grasp.  However, when we engage with nature, we open ourselves up to our creator.... complicated isn't it?!." replied the Abbot.
"We should always encourage people to open themselves up to God, to grow a bit in their faith and understanding." declared the young monk.
"Are you going to suggest that we add tree hugging to our mission programme? asked the Abbot.
"No, I just trying to understand why people would find it helpful."
"Well most trees are beautiful, and are found in beautiful places.  If you are struggling with life, I think stepping away from problematic situations and just going to stand outside in a wood, and feeling the breeze, and listening to nature, would certainly help take your mind off your troubles and lower your blood pressure.  Then consider, what are they doing when they reach out to the tree. When they wrap their arms around a piece of creation, are they reaching out to the creator, to their shield and defender?"
"Next time I see a suitable tree," declared the young monk, "I shall try this tree hugging lark."
"Well in the meantime I need you to go and collect some books from a church in Stratford."

Mystery Monk always enjoyed a trip to the nearby town.  The early January sunshine made the water sparkle, families were out enjoying the Bank Holiday and for many it was also the last day of the Christmas holidays. Taking advantage of the good weather Mystery Monk took the scenic route, crosing over the river and approaching the riverside church from the southern side.  He entered the churchyard and turned as usual towards the front door,  but his attention was caught by the avenue of tree, all being hugged by a coat made from brightly coloured yarn.  Mystery Monk ran up to one of the trees and joined the layer of yarn in giving it a hug, and felt the soothing peace of the tree and churchyard.
"Is it the place or nature, or maybe it is both..." he pondered.

People stopped to admire the bedecked trees and there was a feeling of excitment and expectation. Mystery Monk was most impressed.
"Do go and see the Remembering Tree by the theatre. It is sponsored in memory of loved ones and the money will go to charities both local and international,"  he was advised.

Gathering the books he had been sent to collect, he headed towards the gardens by the theatre.  It wasn't hard to spot the tree.  Firstly, because of the glorious covering of knitted yarn, and secondly because of the stready stream of people approaching the tree.

Mystery Monk was touched by how the bedecked tree seemed to draw people to it and the impact it had upon passers by, who stopped to read the names and reflect on those who were no longer alive, even though they were probably strangers, just unknown names on a list. Others had come on a pilgrimage, to remember those they had loved and lost. Those who were missing from family gatherings over the Christmas period.

When he got home, after he handed over the books he had gone to collect,  Mystery Monk recounted his visit, as he looked out of the window.  The Abbot followed his gaze.
"Now now Young Monk dont get any ideas. I am useless at knitting..."
"You may not be, but God is!" repled Mystery Monk with a smile.
"Whatever gave you that idea!" responded the Abbot.
"Psalm 139:13" replied the young monk and went off in search of some wool.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Upright and bright

Mystery Monk was shattered after a few days of Christmas festivities.
"Christmas is exhausting!" he declared.
"Celebrating takes a lot of preparation! It doesn't just happen.
My Mum always made it look so easy, the wave of a hand and a batch of cakes would appear, along with mince pies, dinners, clean clothes. Somehow she did all that, whilst bringing up a family, working AND without a lot of the modern aids we take for granted."
Mystery Monk looked out of the window at the sunshine, "..and she was a keen gardener too!"
The Abbot listened carefully.  He knew the young monk was right. Much as they tried to live a simple life, and keep to a rhythm of prayer, Christmas still left them feeling weary and drained.
"Why don't you take a leaf out of your mothers book, and go and spend the morning in the garden?" he suggested.
Mystery Monk looked dubiously at the ice on the pond
"It looks pretty cold out there!" he protested.
"The garden is sheltered, the sun is shining. Once you get to work you will be warm enough. You won't be sat still out there, there is plenty of work to do!" 
Mystery Monk looked at the borders covered in leaves, and the annuals that were now just sad reminders of their former glory.
"I will just get some tools out of the garden shed, and see how I get on." he decided, giving himself the option of retreating if it really was too cold to stay outside.
Mystery Monk set to work and was soon warmed by his exertions, as he steadily restored order to the garden, by removing the fallen oak leaves which were smothering the perennials and pulling up the skeletal remnant of the lobelia, which had succumbed to the recent frosts.  He trimmed the crocosmia, which had changed from vibrant green to dull brown.  He left the margarite daisies.  They had withered during the recent cold weather. He hoped they would shoot again in the spring.  "Time will tell..." he  muttered to himself.  Mystery Monk noticed the shoots from the grape hyacinth, and remembered how they had thought they were snowdrops last winter, and waited optimistically for the delicate white drooping heads to appear, only to realise their mistake when the blue flowers of the Muscari pushed their way upwards.
He smiled as he reached one of his favourite plants, the winter flowering jasmine, or Nudiflorum, with its delicate yellow flowers, that brighten the dullest days of the year.
"Hmm, you probably would have had a few more flowers, if we hadn't allowed that tomato plant beside you to grow  6 foot tall and smother you for most of the summer!  We live and learn!"
Mystery Monk was a firm believer in talking to the plants in the garden.  He believed that by speaking positive words to the plants, would keep him in the habit of being kind to others, even if they were challenging. The Abbot appeared just as he was admiring the brightness of the blooms. "May you always be a light to those around you, upright in nature, not seeking to rely on your own strength, but depending on the support you have been given."
"Thank you young monk" said the Abbot.
The young monk just smiled at the jasmine, who continued to silently brighten the border.
"There is nothing like spending time in the garden to help you get things back in perspective" Mystery Monk declared.  The jasmine just nodded its blooms approvingly in the December breeze and kept her own wise counsel.

(C) RJH 2016

Monday, 10 October 2016


"Oh, WoW!!" declared Mystery Monk as he sat at his computer.
"There is NOTHING exciting about computers!" responded the Abbot.
"Erm, have you actually read your emails recently?" enquired the young monk
"I try not to," confessed the Abbot, "ever since I accidentally agreed to lead an assembly for several hundred teenagers, when I thought I was booking a retreat..."
"Well you might want to today...."announced the young Monk.
"Can't you just tell me?" requested the Abbot.
"Data protection"  replied Mystery Monk sagely "Maybe you haven't had a communication.....  they could be reserved for young monks with a presence on social media..." 
"Hmmmph!" snorted the Abbot.  His resolve to stay detached from the internet was overridden by his desire to know what had elicited such an enthusiastic response from his younger colleague, and off he trotted to get his laptop.

The Abbot returned, sat down at the table and turned on his computer.  After the younger monk had reminded him of his password, which was based on his favourite passage of scripture, he logged on and ploughed through his backlog of electronic communications.
"Lots of rubbish emails...
how many altar candles do they think we need, and why would we want ones that changed colour?.....
Now what exactly am I looking for..? 
Ah, an email from the Diocese..I assume that is what you are talking about?"
"If it is about safeguarding, or returns, no... important that those are, of course!"
"Ah! But if it is an invitation to hear a certain Justin speak...?
"Well that will tick a few boxes in on our Continuous Spiritual and Educational Advancement returns...!" declared the beaming Abbot.
"I find it very interesting how he came to head up the Anglican Church. I bet he never imagined that he would lead the good old C Of E when he was young.  I know that when I was a child my ambitions did not go further than wanting to be a fireman. I even had my very own 'Fireman Sam' costume...
"Why does that not surprise me? grinned the Abbot.
"The possibility of becoming a monk did not cross my mind until very much later..."
"Yes, I know what you mean. When I was a child my ambition was to become a train driver.  However gradually my life began to follow a different sort of track, as God revealed the plans that he had for me. I still love trains, but I am very happy with the life as an Abbot.   

Mystery Monk sat back and pondered with a far away look in his eye, and mused on life as an Archbishop...
"He has a pretty hectic schedule, with so many people having expectations of him. 
He holds the whole Anglican communion together. One foolish comment and the whole thing could disintegrate.... No pressure...."
"Yes, he is a good man, with one tough job! I do not envy him in the slightest!  Mind you I think there is great pressure on all clergy, which is why one of our charges is to pray and support them.  The leadership are looking at ways that we can work more closely with  local ministers, hence why we now live in the community."
Mystery Monk considered the implications of this.
"If you were the Archbishop of Canterbury, how would you change things to help the clergy?"
" Oooh that's a big question.  
Chatting to clergy at the local chapter meeting the other week, the issues that kept recurring were:  a desire for further management training, budget shortfalls and the often unrealistic expectations of their parishioners."
" Clergy aren't managers are they?"
"Many of them responded to a call to work with people and look after them spiritually.  As clergy numbers dwindle, they end up managing others to do the job they felt called to do, and do not get time to do the kind of work they feel fulfilled in doing."
" Why do they have these helpers if they would rather do the work themselves?"
"The clergy don't have time to visit everyone, lead concurrent services.  It's just that the more people that get involved, the more complicated it becomes. Clergy no longer have the time to pop round for a cup of tea and a cucumber sandwich with everyone....they are often looking after tens of thousands of people!"
"How can they?"
"Well obviously they cannot do everything. They can only reach a small fraction, so can their helpers. Any team needs training & guidance, and that takes MORE of their time, and so they end up being managers to their teams and a figurehead to the community."
"That must be very frustrating for them!"
"For many of them it is, just as frustrating as the financial situations many of them find themselves in. There is nothing harder than having a building that is not fit for use, but cannot be changed because of history. It is not suitable for the present or the future and it keeps the church in the past, and so attendance declines - who wants to sit on hard seats in a draughty building with no heating.
They should tiptoe away quietly and find somewhere better suited to their purpose!"
"Ha!  Somehow I do not imagine that would go down very well with the powers that be!"
"True...so what can they do?"
"They do what they can, and trust God. Everyone expects their leader to have all the answers, but clergy are only human, just like us.  Unfortunately they also have to meet the expectations of their congregations - and each and everyone of those will have an opinion on how things should be done.  They work six days a week, so their families rarely see them. In their families eyes the church always comes first."
"Where is God in all this?"
"Good question"
"Do you have any thoughts on how things could be changed?"
"Just a few, but remember, these are my views only. I do not have the authority to speak for the Community, or even the Anglican Communion!"
Mystery Monk grinned, and sat and waited for the Abbot to speak.  One thing he had learnt while he was in the community, was to wait and listen.

Finally the Abbot spoke
'...Limit clergy working time to 5 days a week, and check with their family that they are keeping to this.... 

Give them  access to further management training, so they have strategies for dealing with people, especially difficult ones!...

Train more non-stipendiary clergy so there are more clergy... 

Make town centre churches, Ministers, recognising their status as the Mother church of the town, and encourage them to link together with arts to make it easier for non-church goes to draw close to God and feel more at home in church buildings....  

Encourage all churches to develop as centres for hospitality, encouraging people to cross the threshold....

Encourage churches that are pretty to get members of their community to be a 'friend' and to feel involved.....

Suburban churches worry me most. Often their communities do not see them as relevant. If they want a church wedding they often opt for a village church close by, which will look good in the wedding album....

Christenings or baptisms are no longer the norm and funerals have become secularised, with many taken by Civil Celebrants..."

"...and how would all these changes be paid for?"
"I have absolutely no idea!"
"So nothing can change?"
"Oh yes,  any situation can change. But in order for change to happen we need to be prepared to be part of the solution."
"So, where do I sign up?"
"Start with prayer and see where God leads..."
"I love a good adventure!"

Bloggers Note - these blogs are general musings and should not be taken as referring to any particular situation or to any persons - apart from a mention of the recent visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the diocese...

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Altar Ego

It was a cloudy but surprisingly warm September afternoon. Mystery Monk was out in the garden, admiring the changing of the seasons.  The distant trees were slowly acquiring their autumn colours, with tinges of red, orange and yellow becoming increasingly noticeable. Some of the plants were loosing their final petals. Mystery Monk breathed in deeply, and savoured the pungent aroma of smoke as leaves and weeds were burnt on nearby allotments, as a sacrifice to the produce of subsequent seasons.
"Autumn is surely here!" he declared.  "Summer has slipped away"
"Don't sound so mournful. After all before you know it Christmas will be here - Your favourite season! the Abbot reminded him.
"True. I just wish that winter was shorter!" grumbled the young monk.

Mystery Monk continued his amble around the garden when all of a sudden he came to a sudden stop.
"A secret altar" he breathed. "I wonder why these gifts have been placed there..." He took a closer look, and smiled.
 The Abbot hurried across the garden to see what had caught the young monk's attention .
"Most unusual!" declared the Abbot, frantically trying to recall what the current policy was on 'signs, visions, wonders and unexpected appearances'.

"Look at the perfect placement of these stones!
It is an offering worthy of our Lord" enthused
Mystery Monk.
"Quick, get your camera" urged the Abbot, " I need some photos to send off Canterbury!  This will surely get our small suburban community on the map!" 
Mystery Monk carefully hid his smile behind his camera.
Just as he was taking some photographs Howard's head appeared over the fence
"Hello Abbot, Hello Brother Beckham"
"Mystery Monk IS the name!" replied the young monk.
"What kind of name is that?" enquired the lad.
"It's a mystery...." responded the Abbot.

Howard observed the photographic activities
"Are you taking photos as evidence? he asked.
"No, I am taking a photo of this wondrous offering from the....little people" replied Mystery Monk.
"Like the Borrowers?"
"Well you never know..."Mystery Monk smiled.
"I have a confession to make" declared Howard importantly.  "The little person who put those stones on that larger stone was me!  I climbed over to get my football the other day and couldn't resist digging them out of the flower bed, but I couldn't see anywhere sensible to put them..."
The Abbot looked at Howard, as the penny dropped.
"YOU are the little person!?"
"Yes," replied Howard, "but I won't always be little. I am still growing!"
"I actually really like the way you have arranged the stones.  There is great beauty and harmony in the arrangement." mused Mystery Monk.
" I think that is 1-0 to Brother Beckham!" declared Howard before adding "Sorry Abbot."
"Humph!" snorted the Abbot, "Forget Canterbury, I am off to ring the Tate!" and he departed to seek consolation in prayer and coffee.

Friday, 9 September 2016

A Gastly Experience!

Mystery Monk collapsed in a heap in the armchair.

"Phew!  What a day!  What a day!"

The Abbot put down the heavy tome on early saints, which he was perusing and peered over the top of his glasses.

"Been busy?" he asked.

"Yes, so many jobs to do and then, just as I was in the middle of trying to sort food for the food bank AND get the paperwork up to date, this gastly creature appeared from nowhere!  It made me jump, I can tell you!"

The Abbot look perturbed.

"Oh dear! Have you had a bad day?  It is not like you to describe others in quite such direct terms.  Usually you see the best in everyone."

Mystery Monk just smiled.

"Well, was the person in need of a food parcel?  Maybe hunger and fear of being given tins of baked beans made them grumpy." reasoned the Abbot, "What did they say?"

"Well they didn't actually say anything.  They just appeared, hovering in front of me in a menacing sort of way. I was so surprised I kind of froze for a second.  Then I knew exactly what I had to do, so I lobbed an object at them." replied the young monk.

"Good heavens!" replied the stunned abbot, "I never thought I would hear you say something like that! I hope you didn't hit them!"

"No, my aim is not very good. I need to work on that. Fortunately my second shot was much better. Right on target.  Sorted that creature out, for sure."

"Oh no!" moaned the Abbot, "I do hope the press don't hear about that they would have a field day!"

Mystery Monk smiled..."Pokemon Go" and held out his phone to show the Abbot what a ghastly Gastly actually looked like.

"Reminds me of some of the more scary monks I met when I was younger!" observed the Abbot.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

When I needed a neighbour

Mystery Monk wandered out into the sunny garden.  The sounds of domestic harmony drifted over the fence, children were playing, lawn's were being mowed, voices chattered as washing was being hung out.
"I feel more aware of the world now we are living within the community, rather than separate from it..." pondered the monk.

Suddenly the relative peace of this suburban idyll was disrupted by the strident notes of the ringtone 'I will survive.' The person receiving the call disappeared inside, the door closed noisily behind them.

Mystery Monk sat and watched as stray oak leaves drifted down, and reflected on the passing of the seasons... Suddenly he was aware of the intense stare of a pair of pale blue eyes...the eyes of Howard.

"Morning Brother Beckham"

Mystery Monk waved, and hoped that would suffice,
but no, Howard had news to impart and from his vantage point on top of his climbing frame, Mystery Monk was his captive audience.

"It's all kicking off again"

Mystery Monk assumed that the proclamation related to football. Look vague, but knowledgeable, he silently advised himself, knowing that his knowledge of any sport was far from current. However, Howard was on a mission, and like an incoming tide, he wasn't about to be halted.

"Donna has walked out on Simon and about to arrive with 'The Rugrats'.
Grandma has fallen over and is in A & E.
Dad has lost his car keys and the spare ones are upstairs...
Yes, it's ALL KICKING OFF AGAIN, FOR SURE!" Howard announced with great emphasis, and then disappeared.

Mystery Monk felt exhausted just by listening to Howard's headlines of horror. He closed his eyes tightly in prayer.
"Lord, help me to be a good neighbour to those around me," he prayed, "especially those going through difficult times"

Just then the door bell rang.
"Saved by the bell" announced Mystery Monk and obediently went to answer the front door. In front of him stood a young woman.

"Brother Beckham, I assume" she greeted Mystery Monk, who smiled weakly and held out a hand. To his great discomfiture, the young lady leant forward and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. Mystery Monk took a small step backwards,  just in case any further further attempts at intimacy were on the agenda.
"Hello, I'm Julie from No 19. We've not met before, but you are Howard's current favourite topic of conversation, so I feel as if I know you already." she greeted him with a smile, before pausing to add...."I'm not religious, but it is nice to have some Godly people living close by. Since you Brothers have moved in, it really has made a difference to the neighbourhood. I can't put my finger on what has changed, but people are definitely kinder and more considerate.... Oh, and by the way, I do apologise for Howard looking over your fence. I have asked him to show some respect and not intrude on your privacy, but he's not quite understood that means not leaning over the fence or terrorising you from the top of the climbing frame... If it becomes a problem for you please let me know."

"Oh, do not worry! He keeps us on our toes" replied Mystery Monk with a smile.

"I hope you don't think I am being cheeky, but I have popped round to ask a big favour?"
Mystery Monk looked at the bundle of clothing she was holding. Well I can manage the washing machine, he thought to himself.
"Can you take care of this for me? I need to go and see my Mum, she has had a fall and is in A & E.  My husband is walking home He shouldn't be long."

Mystery Monk didn't hesitate "Sure, I would be glad to help!"
The young woman handed Mystery Monk the bundle of  clothing. Mystery Monk froze.  It was not washing. It was a child. A VERY SMALL CHILD.
Mystery Monk did not hesitate. He panicked!
"A BABY!!!! I can't! I haven't a clue. I don't know what to do" gabbled Mystery Monk, desperately.

"Don't worry, it comes with an instruction manuel in the form of Howard. He knows everything there is to know about looking after babies..." Suddenly Howard appeared and was propelled towards Mystery Monk

"We can talk about goal scoring techniques while you feed her" advised Howard, brandishing a babies bottle of milk.

Mystery Monk had a horrible thought "What if she...."

"Cries?" asked Howard, "We sing to her and give her a little jiggle."

"No, I was thinking more of...."

Howard looked at him and nodded in perfect understanding, before offering a single word of advice.."Pray!" 

Mystery Monk took a deep breath, and nodded in agreement, "Yes. Pray. Certainly!!"

Meanwhile his neighbour jumped in her car and was heading off in the direction of A & E. Mystery Monk sighed and took his charges into the house.

Just then the Abbot appeared. 
"How does he know?" wondered Mystery Monk.
Then a horrible thought crossed his mind "Maybe he could smell the nappy...."
He paused to see if he could detect any aroma, without sniffing too obviously. Then he smiled..."Maybe the Abbot will be good at changing nappies..."
Then a more realistic thought crossed his mind "He would delegate that job to me..."
"Good Morning Abbot" said Mystery Monk, deciding that if he named the day 'good' it might get the idea...

"I see you have been left holding the Baby" replied the Abbot, peering with bemusement at the infant in arms, "and a new recruit I see" he added, turning to gaze at Howard, who gazed back, completely unfazed

"Nah, I'm Howard from next door and I'm going to be a famous footballer."

Good Morning Howard-from-next-door" responded the Abbot, and shook hands.
They went into the recreation room, and sat down. Upon hearing voices the other brothers appeared to welcome the visitors. Hardly had they settled down when Howard's father appeared to rescue his offspring.

After they departed the Abbot turned to Mystery Monk
" I bet you weren't expecting that!"

"No,", smiled Mystery Monk, "I was thinking about how different it is going to be living here, and wondering how I can be a good neighbour, praying for God to show me how, and then suddenly a door opens and I find myself babysitting!"

"Indeed!" replied the Abbot, "..but don't make a habit of it...."

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Not Forever By Still Waters

 "Today, young monk, you are going on an expedition out on the moors. Get some fresh air into your lungs, marvel at nature, listen to the sound of the wind...."

"But I have only just arrived, I don't feel I have even settled in yet! " protested the monk, who had envisaged a day far less energetic.

"Yes, but we don't want you getting too set in your ways."

"But what about prayers?" babbled Mystery Monk, sensing that he was not winning the argument.

The Abbot smiled, "You require physical exercise as well as spiritual exercise! Besides the prayers are so familiar to you that you can say them in your sleep, and often do!"

Mystery Monk winced, he had hoped that his closed eyes had been interpreted as religious piety, rather than human weakness.

"Take a packed lunch and plenty of water to drink. Your companions will be here to collect you in, gosh 10 minutes. You better go and get ready. You don't want to keep them waiting!"

Mystery Monk made his sandwiches (not marmalade) and had just finished packing his bag when a car pulled up outside the front door.  It was his travelling companions, a family off on a day trip, eager to share their love of the outdoors.  Mystery Monk nailed a smile to his face, but soon found he was quite enjoying the journey, that was until they pulled up in a car park, and he had to get out of the car.

They decided to leave their stuff in the boot, and go and spy out the land. The more energetic members of the party began to explore the river bank. Mystery Monk waited patiently for the moment when he could get his lunch and chair and settle down for a snooze.... Instead he found himself climbing over rocks.  Then a member of the party had the bright idea of walking up to the dam.

"Is it far?" he enquired, trying to make his tone sound enthusiastic. That was before he discovered that it was a mile, or two, or possibly three, and uphill ALL THE WAY!

Off they went, with a spring in their step.  Mystery Monk followed, trying to put a spring in his plod, and failing. They stopped regularly to admire the way the water tumbled over the rocks. Mystery Monk did consider asking if he could stay there while the others went on ahead, but he KNEW the Abbot would get to hear about it, because Abbots always do....
After about a mile, the pathway moved up away from the small river, but they could still hear the sound of the water tumbling over rocks.

"It's laughing at us, telling us we are going the wrong way..." thought Mystery Monk, "we should be going down the valley, not up!"

The terrain opened out, the sun appeared and the temperature rose within the sheltered valley. Mystery Monk mopped his brow and looked up at the green hills around him, hoping that a concrete wall would magically appear somewhere, indicating that his torturous trail was terminating. Birds appeared in a line, swooping and turning in a synchronised display of aerial acrobatics, but Mystery Monk had little energy left to appreciate their artistry.  Finally the dam came in to sight, but now they HAD to climb to the top to see the view. Even Mystery Monk agreed that there was no point in coming all this way to look at the base of the dam, they needed to reach the top to see the water.  Mystery Monk thought longing of his lunch, which was waiting for him back at the car several miles away....

Upwards they climbed. Mystery Monk followed wearily. He put his head down and willed his body to keep moving forward, concentrating on moving one aching leg at a time as he slowly climbed the stoney path. He noticed a rock beside the path that looked suspiciously like a headstone.  "Oh no!" he thought. "Others have perished on the way!  This is it I AM DOOMED!!!"
Then suddenly they were there. Mystery Monk gave a huge sigh of relief and looked out across the water, watching the ripples and reflections and felt relieved that he had reached the top of the dam.

The next stage, his hosts advised him, involved walking round the edge of the water and back down the other side.
Mystery Monk lay face down on the grass.
"I can't...." he said sadly "My reservoir is empty!"
The family smiled and told him they were only joking...

Mystery Monk paused at the top of the dam,  and admired the hazy view.
"It really is a very beautiful world we live in. I hate to say it but the Abbot is right. We do need to get outside and marvel at creation.
Maybe he could send me to Norfolk next time.  It is flatter there!"

The return walk was much quicker than the endless climb into the unknown, and Mystery Monk definitely did have a spring in his plod as he headed towards lunch.

They ate their belated picnic on the bank of the river, listening to the roar of water over the rocks.

Mystery Monk returned home weary but rejoicing.
"So, how was the grand expedition up to the dam?" enquired the Abbot

"Fern-tastic!" replied the weary, but happy monk, before falling into quiet repose.

Title taken from the hymn - Father hear the prayer we offer