Friday, January 19, 2018

The Monastery

The path is almost as wide as a man's outstretched arm. Even where it snakes far up the canyon walls it roughly carved and uneven. Prospective new monks extend the path, then carve their cell into the side of the cliff. The openings are sealed with clay, into which is carved a name and a date

Every so often a cell lies open, broken out of from the inside. Sometimes a monk will choose sculpture as their method of meditation, turning their cell into an immaculate bas-relief; gardens or shrines or scenes from the Testament. These cells are kept open, for viewing.

The monk is bound in tight wrappings coarse brown fabric. The visitor is bound in pure white linen, on top of which is layered a tunic, a vest, and a turban, all of bright colors and with elaborate embroidery. They do not travel far up the cliff, but stop in front of one of the older, still sealed cells.

The monk gestured to the door, "Solomon of Babylon, withdrew 10th year", and steps back. The visitor stabs an iron bar into the ancient clay, pulling out chunks and throwing to the canyon floor.

There was no cell beyond. There was a tunnel, barely large enough to crawl through, leading deep into the earth.

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