St. Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries opens with an appeal: Listen. Perhaps it is the most important word in the Rule. Listen, “obaudire,” also means obey. In listening something new can emerge, something beyond my own assumptions, control, and agenda. Rainer Maria Rilke spoke of writing as an obedience to the moment, to what is given in the present. He would not find it strange if this were called a monastic approach to writing. He aspired to carry the cloister within him, although he knew he could not live in a monastery.
—Brother Paul Quenon, an excerpt from “Prayer, Poverty, and Creativity,” a Christian monk’s reflections on solitude and community in the latest summer issue of Parabola: “Alone & Together” which is available on newsstands and better bookstores now.
PHOTOGRAPH: William Lovell Finley, “Chickadees,” c.1900-1909.