Thursday, September 19, 2013
A man was driving in the middle of nowhere down a secluded country road far from any cities. He got a flat tire, and got out to walk for help. After walking for some time, he came to a small stone monastery. He knocked on the door and roused the monks. "I've got a flat tire. Can I use your phone?" he asked.
The monks said they were sorry, but they did not have a phone. "If you stay tonight, you can get a ride on our wagon into town tomorrow," So the man stayed the night, and they put him in a small room in the monastery.
In the middle of the night, the man was awakened suddenly by a noise. Not just any noise, but the loudest, most wonderful, most beautiful, most hair-raising noise ever.
He sat there, his heart beating for a few minutes, and he heard it again! Getting out of bed, he went running in the direction of the noise. It came again, making the hair on the back of his neck rise and his skin crawl. Finally, he came to a large door where the head monk was standing. The door was at least 15 feet tall, and made of solid-looking wood and metal. It had chains and bars and locks and a deadbolt on it, and was the most formidable door the man had ever seen.
"What was that sound?" he asked. "What made it? Is it behind that door?"
The head monk shook his head. "I'm sorry," he said. "I can't tell you; you're not a monk."
As the man turned away, he heard the noise again. "You have to tell me what it is." he begged.
"I'm sorry, I can't tell you, you're not a monk," said the monk.
The man tried to sleep, but couldn't get the noise out of his head. In the morning, as he was getting ready to leave, he heard the sound again. It made his ears ring and his mind whirl. "Please tell me what made that sound!"
But the monks wouldn't. "I'm sorry, you're not a monk" was all they said.
The man left, and eventually got his car fixed and went back to his life. But he couldn't get the sound out of his mind. After a few months, he got in his car and drove and drove until he found the monastery again. He got out of his car and found the head monk. "I can't forget that sound from that night I was here. Please, please please tell me what made that sound."
The head monk just shook his head. "I can't tell you; you're not a monk,"
"Then tell me how I can become a monk," the man said.
The head monk said "It's very difficult. Are you sure you want to do this?"
The man said "I've got to. I have to know what made that sound."
The head monk said, "To join us, you have to perform several tasks. Your first task is to count all of the stars visible in the sky."
The man thought about how hard that would be, but he had to know what made that sound. He sat up every night for a year, counting the stars over and over until he was sure how many stars were visible in the sky. He went to the head monk and told him, and the monk nodded.
"Very good. Your next task is to count all of the grains of sand on the beaches around the world."
The man knew this would be even harder, but he could not get the noise out of his head. He had to know what kind of being could make that wonderful, beautiful sound. So he left on his journey. He crawled the length and breadth of every beach in the world, counting the grains of sand, and he returned to the monastery years later. The head monk heard his answer and nodded.
"Excellent. You are almost done. Your final task is to climb to the peak of the highest mountain in the world, and see yourself in relation to the rest of creation." And the man knew this would be hard, but he outfitted himself, and he went to the highest mountain in the world, and he climbed to the top, and returned months later, older and wiser and more tired than years before when he had first heard the noise, the noise that would not leave his mind and that echoed in his every waking thought. He returned, and the head monk saw that he was wiser, and said "At last, you are a monk. Come with me."
He led the man through the monastery, its twisting and turning halls, and as they went the man heard the noise again, over and over, and he was no longer sure if it was the noise or merely his memory of it. And finally.. Finally! Finally he stood in front of the door and the head monk opened it up, and the man saw what had made the noise.
But, I can't tell you what it was because you're not a monk.