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Trappist fathers and complexity

A friend of mine sent a wonderful article on the silence in a Trappist monastery.

Father A seems to have all the answers which makes me a little uncomfortable but I notice that it is his answers that I have underlined. I loved what he said about complexity.

If by “complexity” you mean the extraordinary diversification of forms of experience and the myriad ways they meet and interact in the course of living life, all of this is inexpressibly beautiful and it would be hard to see how it could be a challenge to anyone’s faith. Probably, by “complexity” you mean rather the perplexing, self-defeating… binds we get ourselves into individually and collectively because of the influence of sin. It is sin that makes the world complicated, and sin comes from us. But if sin comes from in us, then a monk, living in silence and solitude, is sitting in the eye of the storm.

Real complexity is divine, what the journalist understands as complexity is probably a self-inflicted confusion caused by ‘sin’. If you replace ‘sin’ with delusion or un-enlightenment then it’s a very palatable truth. There’s magnificent complexity and then there’s miserable confusion.

Father A goes on to talk about his worries about the world outside, particularly the loneliness he sees around him:

In America, loneliness can become like the blueness of the sky. After a while, people don’t think about it anymore.

and then again, explains how silence is not an avoidance of human intimacy, but the end product of a different kind of intimacy. Lovers, he says, meet and talk and talk and talk, but then fall silent:

They talk for hours together, and never tire of talking and so talk late into the night, until they become intimate—and then they don’t talk anymore. Neither would describe intimacy as “the sacrifice of words” and a monk is not inclined to speak about his intimacy with God in this way.

I’d love to know your thoughts about complexity. Drop me a message with any thoughts, comments, questions, queries or insights that pop up while reading the blog. I’d love to hear from you!

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