Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Monk

I'm in the middle of a brief meditation, chai tea in hand, gazing out my bedroom window, just as I revert my eyes forward, and old Polaroid hung on my wall steals my concentration.

It's a photo of San Marino, Italy. And I can remember the exact moment that I took it.
It was the middle of August and very chilly, San Marino sits way on top of a a mountain.
There was no internet or cable, and if you wanted to use the phone line you had to pray that the winds were calm enough.
In other words, this place was very secluded. The photo shows the perfect balance between land and sky.
You're familiar of the view of the ocean right?
When you look to past the shore out as far as your eyes can see until you believe that there is literally a line drawn to separate the water and sky.

That's what this photo looks like, except instead of water, it's valleys and small houses.
I only stayed in that city for a couple days, that was enough.  Once you've seen all the churches and climbed all those hills, there isn't much else for tourists to do.
However, there was one specific moment I remember. 
It was early morning, we had all gotten up to see the sun rise. Through the dense clouds and over the sleepy city. Once it was finished we made our way for more adventure. 
As we trekked up the hills a monk was making his way to the cliff.  
I had to catch up with the gang later because I was so interested in watching this monk and what I had assumed to be his morning ritual. 
Like us, he stood at the cliff and leaned onto the rails. Pacing back and forth, pausing in between to look over the city. 
What was he doing? I imagine he was having a subtle conversation to God or some lost souls. Just at peace, in the perfect morning mist. 
I felt I must have been intruding on his quiet moment, but I so badly wanted to ask him who he was speaking to...or at the very least what he was praying for. 
I ran away to catch up with the rest, no one seemed to notice to monk at the cliff...
it's so weird, that through all of Italy that is one of my most happiest moments. 
How it made me cry, feeling the peace of another person affect me so deeply. I can't explain what was so special about it...perhaps its grave simplicity...
The monk at the edge of the cliff.

PS. I won't show you my photo simply because I'd hate to ruin the image of San Marino that currently sits in your head.