Jasmin Räbsamen

As cold as gold - A monk's tale

The sun rose over a sleepy town. All covered in a brown monks-coat a man stood there in front of the church, his face was completely bare of expression. Birds sang their songs up in the young maple tree whose gift to the even younger monk was a spot of shadow and the calming sound of moving leaves.
He sighed and took a step towards the church. The golden top of the roof seemed to stab straight into the clear blue morning sky. His fingers slightly touched the door handle of cast iron, he felt the detailed decoration of the handle very clearly.
With a strong movement he pressed his lips together and opened the door.
Now he stood in an anteroom, the ground was of grey stone, the echo of his steps passed his ears nearly unheard until he got through another door into the nave. Suddenly all the noise was gone, no more stepping sounds, no more birds or rustling of leaves, even his steady breath stopped for a second or two. His crystal blue eyes searched the room for any warmth which had reached him outside. But the only thing he saw was the shining of gold covering the pillars. The smell of wealth filled the air and stuck on the walls from where paintings of a dying Jesus stared at the monk. There was a swift movement in his cowl, if there had been any wind one could have thought that it wasn't he who shivered from deep inside. He watched the weak rays of light which broke through the windows and got immediately reflected by the gold. The sunlight made the metal shine even more, so that the monk had to close his eyes, feeling blinded.
As soon as he opened his eyes again slowly he noticed another man who was wearing a priest's coat and who bowed politely.
"Don't be afraid, brother. I'm just the priest. We talked to each other on the phone, Mr. Juss, you remember?"
The monk nodded as he remembered the deep and rough voice. Mr. Juss smiled and folded his hands as if in prayer.
"Good, very good. I've been expecting you."
"Is that so?"
Now the priest nodded and his smile grew even bigger.
"Follow me, my friend," the man stepped away from the other and showed him his backside while he went on speaking not very clearly, having turned his face away from the monk.
"up here you shall see the place where you're going to work a little better."
They took a few steps up to the altar and the priest turned around again, making a gesture towards the nave with its wooden benches and the paintings on its walls.
"This is it."
"Is it yours?"
The monk's voice was calm and no less deep than the priest's. The eyes of the elder grew wider after he'd said "Yes", he shook his head as if in confusion and barked quickly:
"No! Possession is not important."
His voice was more silent now.
The monk nodded very slowly and his toungue moistened his lips.
"Let's go outside to visit the graveyard.", said Mr. Juss and moved surprisingly quickly towards the exit. While the younger followed him at a distance he eyed his new boss carefully. His head was a little too small for his obese body which, on the other hand, matched the gold and the wealth in the room perfectly.
The sun, having reachet its zenith, made the shiny yellow of the gold seem red and rusty, thus robbing it of its worth.
Stones, crosses and flowers decorated the graves and made a kind of living place out of the noisless graveyard. The monk looked around and stepped towards the priest. He shivered again but it also could have been the wind even if it didn't seem to dare to blow over this place.
"Over there you can see a small house, that's where you're going to live. You'll find everything you need to look after the church building and the graveyard in the cellar."
The monk's look followed the priest's gesture towards the house. Its walls were grey and the windows very small, there couldn't be much light in it. But for working and praying, the monk didn't need much light anyway.
"I intend to ask my parish for more money for the graves and funerals because I also want to hire a new graveyard gardener. What do you think about it?"
From far away the songs of the birds broke the silence.
The monk shrugged his shoulders.
"I think that the graves that close over the dead open the firmament and that what we call the end is the beginning."
The priest shook his head. Then he smiled and the two of them fell silent again. The leavs of the young maple glittered in the warm midday sunlight. A smile flitted across the monk's face.
In the early evening when it started to get darker he ventured into the church again. His steps were a little louder than the first time and when he opened the second door he noticed one single candle hanging high above the altar where he and Mr.Juss had stood before. It was the only candle in the hole nave that burned and replaced the sunlight that was becoming weaker by the second. But the fire was much softer and didn't help the gold look better. He also saw three stone made angels surrounding the middle of the roof. They ware bare, naked, not one single speck of gold dressed their white bodies. For a little while they caught the monk's attention and seemed worth it.
The monk went closer to a table where objects like beakers and sculptures hinted even more at the wealth of the room. Dust made the black table seem grey, only three ring-shaped marks showed the original colour.
Suddenly the young man heard a clinging sound. He quickly turned around and looked at the priest. The older raised his eyebrows in a questionning manner.
The monk shook his dark-haired head and then hid his face in the shadow of his hood he was pulling up with determination.
He slapped the priest's back and the clinging noise grew louder.
"You're not as fat as you look, but your shame is."
The full moon was shining but couldn't compete with Mr. Juss' pale face when three precious cups fell from under his coat onto the stone floor.
Swiftly smiling the monk left the church. The candle was blown out by the gentle but cold spring's night wind that rushed through the building as the monk opened the door. His hands disappeared in the pockets of his coat. The maple wellcomed him, softly rustling, and at the same time it was a farewell as he left for good.


All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Jasmin Räbsamen.
Published on e-Stories.org on 30.06.2006.


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