Monday, January 14, 2008

Quiet Monks and Pretty Places

I was lazily lying in bed yesterday morning, contemplating the quiet as the kids were intravenously plugged into whatever post Christmas electronic device they received, and I remembered a documentary I watched not too long ago, Into Great Silence. The film is a peek into the lives of Carthusian monks living in a beautiful, austere 11th Century monastery in France. Since these are the monks who have taken a vow of silence, I was interested to see how a movie with not a lot of chatter would work. And it’s about as exciting as you’d expect, slightly less lively than the Yule Log. But to it’s credit, watching these men quietly carry out the simple day to day tasks of monastic living can be strangely soothing. To a point. Until that same 6 yr old of mine who was so intrigued by that other documentary I watched, (see this post) sat down to watch this one, giggled uncontrollably and kept shouting out, “Mom, this is BOR-RING, why are you watching this!” Poof, no longer soothing.

The climax, be prepared, I’m going to be a spoiler, was when they sat around and DID talk. I’m not sure what the conditions of their vows include, but apparently they do get a little face to face from time to time. And you know what they did? They GOSSIPED! yes, a life of spiritual contemplation and they complained about other monks in other monasteries. I am comforted and a little disappointed to know that people are the same the world over.

My little suburban subdivision is built beside a monastery. These boys have an impressive piece of real estate. It’s so beautiful and peaceful to walk along the paths there that it almost has me wanting to pull a Catholic ‘Yentl’ just to wake up to this view every morning. This is a small oil painting I did, the dormitories look out onto the pond. The view is much more beautiful in person of course.

The brothers are kind enough to allow the public here as long as you’re well behaved and don’t dress like a tart. I come here often and this is some of what I see.


patricia said...

I've been there! It is indeed a peaceful spot. If memory serves me correctly, isn't there also a minimum security prison nearby, where Colin Thatcher spends his days?

Lovely painting.

Angela Rockett said...

We just showed Into Great Silence at our church as part of Advent! It was very soothing (though sitting on a pew for nearly three hours to watch was not very comfortable), and I thought the monks all seemed very at peace with the world. The impromptu "ski" trip was a delight.

andrea said...

It is a lovely spot; I've been there on more than one occasion (driving around, looking for cheaper real estate... :). As for the monks, I absolutely love that! You can't hold human nature down, no matter how you try and elevate it. :)

girl work studios said...

Patricia: yes! the prison is practically across the street where the infamous Mr.Thatcher lived. I'm not sure who came first, the saints or the sinners, but I love the irony.

Angela: I would have loved to have seen the film in church, I'm sure I would have appreciated it so much more (my comfy couch beats those pews though). I did think the monks seemed content and at peace, it's just that scene where they first talked on their hillside walk, I was hoping, perhaps unfairly, for something more profound, but, it shows we're all just human.

Andrea: not so cheap anymore! Oi, crazy provence we live in. I remember reading Ghandi's autobiography when I was a teenager and amused by some of his occasional nit picking, fussy comments. It's humanizing to know even the 'great' ones have their petty moments.

girl work studios said...

I meant to write, 'Province', not 'provence'.I really must check my spelling more often. Must still be thinking about those French monks!