March 18, 2007

Irony or Immaturity

Category: Miscellaneous :: Permalink

The setting: An Episcopal monastery.  The characters: Brother Philip, an aged and frail monk, given to coughing, and Garret Keizer, 26 years old, who is wondering what to do with his life and whether to enter the ministry and has just asked Brother Philip for prayer about that matter.

The next day, after Sunday Communion, Brother Philip rushed past me toward the refectory with a purposeful energy that, in him, seemed nearly supernatural.  For an instant I think I may have wondered if he had some prophetic thing to shout into the abbot’s face.  He burst past several other monks and guests before stopping abruptly at the breakfast buffet, where he filled his plate with an almost obscene helping of bacon.

Over the years I have grown increasingly fond of this image, the memory of this monk, and bacon.  At the time I saw nothing but irony — that young man’s sense of “Ah-ha, I see you!”  For people such as I was, and have all I can do to resist being now, life is ablaze with epiphanies revealing the falseness all around us, when often nothing is revealed so much as our own immaturity.  What we take for another eruption of the painful truth is just another pimple breaking out on our young soul’s face.  Perhaps Brother Philip was teaching me an important lesson, the corollary to renunciation, that when you have chosen asceticism for your life’s work, and find yourself feeble and close to death, and the Lord deigns to provide you with some bacon, load up. — Garret Keizer, A Dresser of Sycamore Trees: The Finding of a Ministry, pp. 8-9.

Posted by John Barach @ 5:28 pm | Discuss (0)

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