By Patrick Leigh Fermor
Whereas nonetheless undefined, Patrick Leigh Fermor made his method throughout Europe, as stated in his vintage memoirs, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. in the course of international conflict II, he fought with neighborhood partisans opposed to the Nazi occupiers of Crete. yet in A Time to maintain Silence, Leigh Fermor writes a couple of extra inward trip, describing his numerous sojourns in a few of Europe’s oldest and so much venerable monasteries. He remains on the Abbey of St. Wandrille, an exceptional repository of paintings and studying; at Solesmes, well-known for its revival of Gregorian chant; and at the deeply ascetic Trappist monastery of l. a. Grande Trappe, the place priests take a vow of silence. eventually, he visits the rock monasteries of Cappadocia, hewn from the stony spires of a moonlike panorama, the place he seeks a few hint of the lifetime of the earliest Christian anchorites.
More than a background or trip magazine, even if, this gorgeous brief publication is a meditation at the that means of silence and solitude for contemporary lifestyles. Leigh Fermor writes, “In the seclusion of a cell—an lifestyles whose quietness is barely assorted through the silent nutrition, the solemnity of formality, and lengthy solitary walks within the woods—the stricken waters of the brain develop nonetheless and transparent, and masses that's hidden away and all that clouds it floats to the outside and will be skimmed away; and after a time one reaches a country of peace that's unthought of within the usual world.”
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I had asked for quiet and solitude and peace, and here it was; all I had to do now was to write. But an hour passed, and nothing happened. It began to rain over the woods outside, and a mood of depression and of unspeakable loneliness suddenly felled me like a hammer-stroke. On the inner side of my door, the printed “Rules for the Guests’ Wing” contained a mass of cheerless information. , with the offices of Matins and Lauds, followed by periods for private masses and reading and meditation. A guest’s day began at 8:15 with the office of Prime and breakfast in silence.
The recitation had now changed from Latin to French, delivered in the same sepulchral, and, to me, largely unintelligible, monotone. A few proper names emerged—Louis Phillipe, Dupanloup, Lacordaire, Guizot, Thiers, Gambetta, Montalembert—and it was clear that we were listening to a chapter of French nineteenth-century history. This stilted manner of treating a lay text sounded absurd at first and oddly sanctimonious; its original object, I discovered, had been both to act as a curb on histrionic vanity and to minimise the difficulties of the unlearned reader in the days of St.
In the premodern period, however, in all the major world faiths, the main emphasis was not on belief but on behavior. First, you changed your lifestyle and only then could you experience God, Nirvana, Brahman, or the Dao as a living reality. This has been the experience of monks and nuns. It is not belief but the disciplines of the monastic life that produce in practitioners what Christians call “faith,” an apprehension of the transcendent reality of God. Doubtless, the monks that Leigh Fermor met did accept the essential doctrines of the Church and were convinced that their prayer was efficacious.