Monday, 22 August 2016
The last couple of years had been spent mainly in seclusion, providing the opportunity for spiritual development through prayer and study. The young monk had never regarded himself as much of a scholar and had anticipated that the work would be arduous and boring. However, he had been pleasantly surprised by the enjoyment he had gained from his academic endeavours and he had found the topics interesting and challenging. He particularly enjoyed the weekly discussions - hardly a time of silent contemplation, he chuckled, recalling the lively discussions that had taken place around the table, skilfully led by a variety of tutors. Mystery Monk recalled with gratitude all that he had learnt from both the course leaders and his fellow students. Although their backgrounds were varied, they were drawn together by a desire to gain a deeper understanding of the word of God. Most of the students did not live the life of Holy Orders, they had families, homes, jobs and churches which they returned to at the conclusion of each session. All desired to serve God, but were called to different places. His fellow students cherished the time they spent within the hallowed walls, and Mystery Monk had watched each week as they arrived, often hassled and frantic, and then gradually absorbed the peace and tranquility of the community, before reluctantly returning to the demands of the outside world.
Mystery Monk's studying had been completed. After a time of waiting it was time to begin the next chapter. During the time he had been away the community had moved, so although he was back among familiar faces the location was new. Instead of living in a monastery, his new home was a detached house within the community which he would share with several others. The young monk gazed out, not on the old familiar hallowed grounds, but to a suburban garden.
"It's all very different" he pondered "...metal chairs and fairy lights instead of wooden pews and candles...."He opened the door and stepped out into the gathering dusk, noticing to his surprise, the sound of distant traffic...and lying on the ground in front of him he noticed a football.
He turned in the direction of the voice, and was met my the unblinking stare of a small child.
"Sorry to disturb your prayers, but if you were to see a football, please feel free to send it in this direction."
"Is it yours?"
"Yes, but my mum says I am not allowed to ask..."
Mystery Monk contemplated the football. "I see no reason for it to remain here, I think you would make far better use of it than we would."
Mystery Monk booted the football in the direction of the child, it failed to clear the fence and hit it with a dull thump.
"I think you could do with some lessons!" came the verdict.
Mystery Monk handed the ball over the fence. "That would be most generous"
"They said you had just finished training, but I think you have plenty more to learn!" replied the child before disappearing from sight.
Mystery Monk walked around the garden, admiring the plants, then he noticed the Abbot's familiar face at the open door.
"Welcome back. I see you have met Howard"
"Met, judged, and found wanting, I am afraid," replied Mystery Monk.
"Reminders of our call to humility come in many shapes and forms, " observed the Abbot, but before Mystery Monk had the opportunity to enquire if the Abbot also had failed to kick the ball over the fence, they were summons by the sound of a bell.
"Saved by the bell!" smiled Mystery Monk.