Friday, October 14, 2011


There is a Cross up there on the cliff that hangs over the chapel. The wall of rock like a frozen wave. The building always seemed shiplike to me. The Pequod by George Nakashima. I once asked the Monks about climbing up there. They told me that it was forbidden, that years ago a Stranger had died when he fell from the cliff. His bones are in the Graveyard behind the Garden.

One evening after Vespers, I walked back to the Hallowed Ground to see if I could find the grave. There were a dozen or so simple crosses marked with the names of Brothers and Fathers, but I could not find the name of any Guest or Stranger.

When you are sitting in the chapel, the sun rises into the cliff and the wall of rock becomes a wall of fire and light, filtering in through the high windows, columns made solid with the swirling smoke from the copal and pinon incense. Depending upon where you sit, you can see the Cross up there, poised upon a timeless moment, at a peak instant of the world becoming into being.

When I have been lost, I try to remember the image of that Empty Cross upon the cliff about the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. And I think about the climb up. And that man who fell.