Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Straying

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Straying

Article excerpt

My first real meeting with two lay

Cistercians after my season

as Observer. I want to see

myself ascend in piety

through years of reading the Psalms,

silent lectio divina,

climbing twelve steps of the ladder,

mastering St. Benedict's Rules.

They talk about the May retreat,

group activities, Merlot wine,

while I wonder, aloud, if my

love for this abbey on the banks

of the Shenandoah is linked

to the presence of cows.

I say, "It is somehow spiritual,

to be so close to them,

the smell of damp manure in spring,

mingled with incense during mass,

to hear the lowing, see the cows

gather in the far field at dusk

when the chapel doors swing open. . . ."

Here I trail off, I am straying,

for what will these lay Cistercians

think of me? So, I do not say

how the talks on humility

and Merton show me a deeper

place, lest I seem mystical, or

how I love Saint Isaac's newly

discovered homilies, best kept

under wraps because, it seems,

he was an ascetic,

and would they approve? …

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