A number of years ago, I spent some time as a monk in a contemplative monastery. I thought I may have had a vocation. It was a cleft in the rock of life to hide away while I found myself. Hidden away in that silent cloister I saw that I was just denying myself the life I needed to lead – as a gay man – and also saw abuses of power, subjugation of sexuality, and betrayal of trust! For someone who was already doubting belief in God – more so as the years rolled on – it was the straw that broke the camels back. By the time I came out, I was an Atheist. It is a position I do not regret!

Cloister arches, dark and cool
Within the breath of God.
Fire lost, extinguished, I search
For light, a leading way.
Sanctuary lamp sputters
Within the sacred choir
Haze of incense smoke from
Now unmoving, chains tangled
Upon the altar top.

Held high in adoration,
Throne empty of Body of Christ.
Chant of monks
Mea culpa, mea culpa
Rustle of robes,
Clack of beads,
Clang of sanctuary bells,
Unfeeling, I’m lost to faith
No longer blinded,
No longer blind,
No longer.

Chalice of blood held high,
Bowed heads, mutter of prayer.
Break the bread, genuflect,
Strike your breast in fear
Of retribution while living,
While dead.
Choices to make,
In an instant of time.
Desert the dorter,
Flee from the frater
Washed hands over lavatorium bowl,
Sprinkled water from asperges
Like raindrops upon
The sacred ground.
Tabernacle thrown open,
Its emptiness shines within,
Cowled head bent in silent prayer,
As a soul slips quietly by.

Meditation upon a valley rise,
Hail Mary, Hail Mary,
Rest in green pastures.
Thy kingdom come,
Not mine.
A world awaits,
A life,
A time.
Close a door,
Another door beyond awaits.
Cast aside robes,
Cast aside faith.
Yet not,
Yet not.
A sigh, a whisper,
An echo in the nave.
Lost to God, lost to man.
A wanderers journey begins.

Tim Alderman
Copyright ©2002


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