By Patrick Leigh Fermor
Whereas nonetheless undefined, Patrick Leigh Fermor made his means throughout Europe, as mentioned in his vintage memoirs, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. in the course of global struggle II, he fought with neighborhood partisans opposed to the Nazi occupiers of Crete. yet in A Time to maintain Silence, Leigh Fermor writes a few 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 outstanding repository of artwork and studying; at Solesmes, recognized 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 commute magazine, despite the fact that, this pretty brief ebook is a meditation at the that means of silence and solitude for contemporary existence. Leigh Fermor writes, “In the seclusion of a cell—an life whose quietness is simply different by means of the silent nutrition, the solemnity of formality, and lengthy solitary walks within the woods—the bothered waters of the brain develop nonetheless and transparent, and lots more and plenty 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 traditional world.”
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They range from a repetition of the simpler prayers, sometimes tallied by the movement of beads through the fingers, to an advanced intellectual skill in devotion and meditation; and occasionally rise to those hazardous mystical journeys of the soul which culminate, at the end of the purgative and illuminative periods, in blinding moments of union with the Godhead; experiences which the poverty of language compels the mystics who experience them to describe in the terminology of profane love: a kind of personal, face-to-face intimacy, the very inkling of which, since Donne, Quarles, Herbert, Vaughan and Traherne wrote their poems, has drained away from life in England.
The most remarkable preliminary symptoms were the variations of my need of sleep. After initial spells of insomnia, nightmare and falling asleep by day, I found that my capacity for sleep was becoming more and more remarkable: till the hours I spent in or on my bed vastly outnumbered the hours I spent awake; and my sleep was so profound that I might have been under the influence of some hypnotic drug. For two days, meals and the offices in the church—Mass, Vespers and Compline—were almost my only lucid moments.
The remainder continued to keep the Abbey going throughout the occupation. During the liberation of Normandy, St. Wandrille was in the thick of the battle area, and part of the seventeenth-century buildings were destroyed by Allied bombs. Sixty or seventy choir-monks and lay-brothers—representatives, after exactly thirteen centuries, of a monastic brotherhood that nothing seems to be able to destroy—now inhabit, as if nothing had ever ruffled the quiet rhythm of their history, the ancient buildings; and at their head reigns the Abbot who had bade me welcome in the refectory, le Révérendissime Père Abbé, Dom Gabriel Gontard, seventy-eighth successor of St.