Tag Archives: monastery


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


The Monastery

Cool, crisp morning air
Wrapped in mists from the valley below
Flickering light of candles through stained window glass.
Soft clang of cloister bell
Raises a community to prayer
Before the sun rises to chase the mists away.
Soft rustle of heavy habits
Draping cowled figures in the gloom
As they kneel in contemplation
As the morning Office intones.
Clack of rosary beads
Tinkle of communion bell
Clouds of smoke from censer, soft click of brass chain
All bow before powers greater than themselves
Each lost in a world of meditation
Within this powerhouse of prayer
Another day at ‘Mourilyn’ begins.

A lone monk stands at the head of the valley
Watching the heat send the mists rolling away
Smell of pine, of fir, of eucalypt
Snowbells blooming through the grass.
He watches, hands clasped into sleeves beneath flowing scapular
And contemplates the unseen.
He is unsure
Is he here for himself
Or for others?
Is this silent community his home?
Or is he just hiding from himself
A truth always known?
It is time to be free
To flee from this security
He will find himself

Tim Alderman
(C) 2010