Historical setting: 584 C.E. Ligugè
“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.” [John 1:5] It was the metaphor of message in the letters we inked.
It happens every day, and sometimes after a thunderstorm. A glorious refreshing lightness overcomes darkness. The great human lust for dualities is satisfied, though application of judgment, the good and the bad of it can only be inferred. Darkness itself isn’t always what evil is. It hides the prey and narrows the confusion of sight. It allows for sleep and dreaming in dreams and visions and for some, imaginings. Whatever we bring to the darkness or hide from in darkness it is our most intimate selves. It is a cozy quilt of nestling families of fox and critters of all varieties of furs and feathers. Neither the darkness nor the light is substantive. Both are illusions of sight.
Thank you God, for darkness and the light.
But here in the waning light of what was today I see the storm that left last hour cleansed the earth fragranced it with sweet mist. At its height it bolted through the oak near my cell and left a huge tree where once I had pieced together a weave of branches and leaves to be my roof.
Communities of monks, such as Ligugè, first here with St. Martin, is a random collection of lone ascetics only slightly sheltered from the wilderness; here as community there is also the power of neighbor. The fallen oak becomes a purpose to rally help from every able-bodied monk. So the massive limb with all its sticks and branches and the full weight of leaves is an easy lift for ten monks. My cell wall, a circle of clay bricks, is just slightly damaged, but the covering of brush for the roof will need to be replaced. The fallen limb wrapped in a vine that escaped from an unkempt vineyard becomes the new material for this repair. I use the untangled vine as rope to bind my roof into a tighter woof and weft than it had before.
The storm and the broken tree plundered our usual sacred silence, and gave opportunity for the chatty stable master to stay and help long after the others have gone to back to finish vespers. And here he is face-to-face with me, filling late hours with decrees of his own order of justice.