Design

Monastic Monday
Br. Monday doesn’t feel like talking right now…

Br. Monday is still on retreat to heal after the bandit attack. Let’s join him and the retreat master for a moment…

There is a room in a house on the Via San Domenico in Rome where I am sometimes able to go and write. like every part of this house, this room has its special genius, a neatly and precisely defined space with its own mood. Where I work it is uncluttered and filled with a wonderful light that spills in through the tall window on my left. All the details of the house are Danilo Parisio’s designs, and every bit of it is handsome and find. The proportions of everything–they are so learned, clearly fitted by one who knows what he is doing.

Out of this window, as I turn to rest my eyes and my mind from the work of composing at the computer, I can practice what I read the other day in Milosz’s poem called “This Only.” He spoke of wanting “only one most precious thing: to see, purely and simply…”

What makes the garden beyond the window such a joy to see from here is the way in which the window frames and holds what I see. It seems an odd thing to utter enthusiastic exclamations about, but I want to keep crying out in appreciation, saying, “The proportions! The proportions!”

The mimosa tree, whose trunk is well beyond my sight, sends its bright yellow branches over for display directly before the window. Whether I turn to it directly or not, its yellow comes silently into my white room; and all through my day of writing, consciously as I turn to look, subconsciously as I turn back again to write, I am tinged within and without by the first colors of the spring. I am in a great house where, comfortable and warm, I work with all that is outside close around me.

Now the tree’s branches are still, and the light is waning. during the course of the day, the branches, heavy with their bloom and with the frequent rains, would bounce slowly up and down under the impulse of the soft and occasional winds. I would catch the movement out the corner of my eye and turn toward it as if in answer to a summons. What a worthy distraction! Or was my work the distraction? In any case, the pleasure and beauty of the scene was enhanced by my seeing it through the noble proportions of the window’s frame. The frame, utterly still and firm. Strong tall white lines with their comparatively narrow cross-width–and in the open space beyond, the bouncing heavy-laden branches in their varied movements. Alive, alive, alive–the whole world is alive and moving. Not just me and the tree, but also the house and the room and the window. Also the clouds and the sky behind and above the tree, the roof and the dull red tiles that I espy through the live thicket beyond. We are all alive together and bound into varying constellations by the live numbers of the proportions through which we see and touch each thing and the next.

Source: A Monk’s Alphabet by Jeremy Driscoll

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