The Silence in my Cell
There are two thousand souls on the Holy Mountain; all male. Most of us lead the monastic life, a quiet, uneventful existence, surviving only on bread, water and silence. To protect this way of life we have forbidden women to enter our monasteries. Their presence distracts and slows the path to spiritual enlightenment.
I am an icon painter. My work is treasured here and my routine leaves me contented and spiritually uplifted. I have only one sin. I will neither confess, nor indulge in my telling more than is necessary.
The cool tiles in my cell are oases for my feet. Focusing on the sensations, I take five measured steps forward, five back : first the heel then the arch, then the ball of the foot, the toes, all in a rolling movement. the next foor forward. May God forgive me for taking so much sensual pleasure.
During these meditative journeys, I picture a landscape of coconut forests fringing sapphire seas, long white beaches, and distant horizons. Balancing on the cool tiles, I feel slithering seaweed dangling from my legs, tiny fish tickling my toes. Waves breaking around my feet explode in sparkling fireworks and a joy that bursts and bounces against the walls of my skull. Until the dove that nests on my windowsill taps upon the pane and I believe he is sent to bring me back. Then the silence returns and all is as it should be.