into great silence


found myself beginning lent a couple of days early last night at belfast’s http://www.queensfilmtheatre.com being drawn ‘into great silence’ – a near-three hour documentary about life in a carthusian monastery.

it is slow and quiet, and makes the radical gesture of not offering commentary on the lives of those it portrays.

the notion of spending a life in near-silence is threatening to me, perhaps to most of us; but by the end of the film i was almost ready to commit. the film-maker, philip groening, flicks up biblical quotations from time to time, returning to jesus’ words about giving up everything to be his disciple. the repetition of this phrase has a hypnotic effect, and as the film builds and builds to a climax in which a blind monk discusses his faith, intercut with scenes of the most extraordinary physical beauty, groening manages to convince that the richness of these mens’ lives is an astonishing reward for choosing not to live like the rest of us.

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4 responses to “into great silence

  1. I am looking forward to this. To see others face what we might most fear, especially when it is the antithesis of violence, and believe more in the gift is a great gift in itself. I am struck once again at the call of discipleship. Ultimately giving up everything is what we do in death. These are brave men to test the waters we all will swim.

  2. light. moving skies. and darkened chapel.
    bells. and everyday clattering.
    seasons shifting. trees and leaves. shadow filled walkways.
    simple faces. clever clothing (the over cuffs. the side pockets.)

    giving up your belongings,
    in the (proven) faith that provisions will be plentiful.
    but no longer the freedom to choose.

    my measures of life so obviously tied up with production, on doing,
    and that maturity is somehow tied up with responsibilty.
    and here are i begin to digest thoughts
    i keep stumbling on the idea that these brothers.
    relinquishing freedom, but also the responsibility to provide for themselves.
    and to create, to serve.

    Surely time spent alone, in prayer, should be preparation for
    time spent in service, giving to the other, in loving our neightbour.

  3. rad.. i’d have prefered to log in as saga.

  4. I have the dvd and it is wonderful. If you want a quicker introduction to Monastic life have a look at this account of a journalist’s stay at a traditional island monastic community