14. Quiet

The monk would often experience silence of a different kind. Sometimes during prayer, or contemplation, or during reading, he would find himself in a space neither hot, nor cold, neither dark, nor light, yet in all of these things at once; inside and out of time.

Looking out his door into the desert valley bellow, he saw people coming and going in the distance, visiting the monastery he belonged to. He would hear in the silence voices at the cave where Mass was said. He would hear the desert around his hermitage moving, smell it, taste it. He would disappear and become like the hinge of the door, the cross on the wall, the icons on the table, the words on the page before him.

In these times, he would know the presence of God was close to him. It was a peace hard fought to get, sometimes hard to maintain, and usually easier when he wasn’t looking for it.

Sometimes memories would pass while he was in this place, like leaves on the surface of a stream moving past. They would sometimes refresh him like water, other times leave him parched and thirsty. At times, he would ask God why he would be reliving these memories, these feelings. He thought back on his life and was afraid sometimes for the moment of death–not in as much as it would bring him closer to God, but that he had heard so often times of people’s lives flashing before their eyes, reliving as if living again. He did not want to relive the agony, the pain, the moments of failure.

And then like smoke in the wind, these thoughts too would pass, and he would once again find himself in the stillness of knowing God.

His past didn’t matter then. There was no past in these moments, no future, only the infinite present.

14. Quiet

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