Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Welcome to Medieval Master, a fictional story about a historic
person who was an abbot during the Middle Ages. It's a story
about the different plateaus of Love--and Forgiveness.

To follow this story, go to the very last post--which is the
Introduction--and move your way forward.

(2) Reflection

And within those Benedictine houses, there was a communal life
that depended upon Love and Forgiveness. When humans are
living so close to one another, in family, in a monastery, even on
the battlefield, there is a need for Unity and Harmony if such a
social unit is to be successful. This condition of close living
depends on a practical form of Love and Forgiveness, else it

Also, as a prior first, later an abbot, I had to step onto yet another
plateau, by taking responsibility for the entire monastic community
under my aegis. Sometimes it was a pain attending to monks,
whose personalities were every which way. But I eventually learned
Patience, always a healthy companion to Love and Forgiveness.

Finally, in the winter of my life I was given the gift of Lady Helen.
I found the true mate of my soul. This relationship was about
the clear pure Flame of Love. It was intensely personal, yet near
perfect. After all my years, I had been granted this beautiful love.
And even though my good lady was gone, I felt the most
profound gratitude. Providence was kind to me.

So I reflected on all these different kinds of Love I experienced.
It seemed my whole life was predicated upon Love--even my
mistakes! And I wondered, too, what the future might hold for
me. Would I really see my Lady Helen again? Would we meet
in another form, in another space and time, as was put to me
by the Great Light? I could only hope and pray that this might be
so. Love need be Everlasting if it is to progress unto completion
after completion unto Completion.

(1) Reflection

Chapter Five. REFLECTION

Some days when I had any spare time, I would go to one of
my favorite spots to reflect. Not far from the abbey, I would walk
to a nearby cow pasture and sit under a tree. I had to smile,
noting to myself how much I had changed. No longer the teacher,
Master Alan, no longer a busy abbot either, I seemed more and
more content gazing at the cows. Placid creatures, they conveyed
a sense of peace. So here I sat under the tree, fully realizing that
I was reaching towards the far end of my life.

However, I didn't dwell much on my death--rather, I reflected on
my life, the whole of it, pondering what all my experience might
really mean. No doubt such a habit was common to old age.
To use a business term, it was like checking through an accounting
sheet. Something abbots are forced to do, alas. But now I was
tallying up my life!

I never forgot that special dream, when I was reviewing my life
whilst standing before the Great Light. So once again I started
at the beginning.

Not once had I forgotten the young maiden in the forest. We took
our pleasure, but it was she who first brought forth the issue of Love.
Spurning her love, I paid dearly with years and years of guilt. But,
now old, I had to wonder whether I actually had loved her--and, if
so, in what way would I have loved her if given another opportunity?

Later, at the end of the affair, I did have second thoughts and felt
that I did love her. But my feelings were so muddled, so frightening,
that I could never get a strong grip on them. No doubt it was an
immature youthful form of love, mostly encapsulated by my
sexuality. Going from boyhood into priesthood, moving from
adolescence into celibacy, one's youthful sexuality is thwarted,
under-nourished, and in some cases--like mine--could erupt almost

I clung to my fear and dismissed Love. But looking back, seeing
more plainly the conditions under which I lived, I could beg off to
some extent. Still it resulted in that young girl's suicide. Why did
God make us so vulnerable to the needs of Sex, to the desire for
Love? I cannot explain, only accept that we are allowed to make
wrong decisions. And then take the responsibility for our mistakes.
As a priest and monk, looking back through years meeting the
concerns of other people, I have come to realize that most of us
humans taint Love much of the time. It's a common condition that
many of us never outgrow.

Perhaps my searing sense of guilt prompted me to become far
more aware of the dangers of Love.

Fortunately I had moved on, teaching Scripture. In the Holy Book,
especially in Christ, I had found a whole new level of Love. Christ
not only taught Love, he *lived* Love. And I focused on his teachings
in this respect. His was a gentle, open life. He responded to all sorts
of people, men and women, bad and good. He never turned his back
on those in need. He stressed Forgiveness, too! He gave people
a chance to turn around their life--and "sin no more."

When I was teaching in Paris, I taught Christ's example of Love and
Forgiveness. And my students responded positively. Their souls,
like my soul, surely craved such. And in both of my monastic houses
I continued to teach Christ as the epitome of Love and Forgiveness.

(4) Winter

The warmth of our many years together was surely a godsend.
But it ended when I was near 65 years of age. We had become
accustomed growing old together. There surely was talk after
so many years, whether from my monks or even among Lady
Helen's family. But, evidently, no one saw any harm and probably
were quite amused by all of it. We both had white hair by this
time, so this marked us as "old." So what's the harm!

The "harm" set-in for me that terrible sad day when I was
summoned to Lady Helen's manor. Her son had sent a messenger,
urgently requesting that I come as fast as I could. My beloved
was dying! Incredible. It was all so sudden. Never a great
horseman, I pushed my steed to move furiously fast. Never
having been to my lady's manor, I followed their messenger.

Upon arrival I was taken to her bedroom. I could not fathom
what was wrong, what might have happened, but it was obvious
that Lady Helen was on the brink of death. She remained
conscious and requested that everyone in the room leave,
except me. With eyes glistening with tears, we both cried
together. Realizing that she was near her leave-taking she
quietly professed her love for me. I was nearly overcome,
but held her close. I told her that she was the mate of my soul.
She knew, knew from the very first time that she had met me.

All the trappings drifted away, my abbatial trappings, my monastic
trappings, my priestly trappings no longer meant anything in
the light of our profession to one another. I told her that I loved
her dearly and wanted her to stay with me. I didn't want her to
die. But we could not forestall Death.

Holding her, I gently kissed her on the lips. And with this kiss,
I had taken her breath away! My precious Lady Helen died in
my arms.

After her funeral, her burial, I could hardly function. Once again
in my life, I felt myself a "lost" soul. Life became aimless, and I
only carried out my duties in a perfunctory way. I had almost
become an automaton. It was like a part of me was no longer
there, like somehow my soul was nowhere. Sometimes I was
able to observe this strange condition of mine, and it seemed
really odd. I felt that I no longer really belonged on this Earth.

In time my Lady Helen returned in my dreams. It seemed as if
there was concern for me. She was supporting me, helping me
through my trouble. I let these dreams soothe me. Slowly these
healing dreams brought me back to life. And, once again, I
took on the mantle as the Abbot of Tewkesbury!

(3) Winter

In the midst of our meetings, I realized that both of us were
beginning to have strong feelings for one another. I had fallen
in love with Lady Helen. And it was obvious that she felt the
same for me. We never outright discussed our love for one
another, but we both knew that it was there. Besides our
wonderful discussions, there was now this underlying bond
that bound us more and more together.

When I first noticed that ours was becoming a love relationship,
I spent some considerable time praying over this situation.
As a monk, much less an abbot, surely we were drifting into a
taboo territory! But Love will have its way. This new love towards
this wonderful woman was not at all like the lustful love that I had
experienced with the young maiden so many years back.

Yes, there was a physical attraction between Lady Helen and
myself--but we kept it at a level where we could transform it in
other ways, just as pleasurable but more mature. Dare I say
the word "devotion" as a hallmark for the love that we held for
one another? We were not only devoted to our mutual spiritual
journey, but to one another!

Our twice-monthly talks continued over the years. And the warmth
of our love kept us spirited and young! Then, in the midst of those
wonderful years, it suddenly dawned on me that Lady Helen was
the true mate of my soul. I remembered that special dream that I
had when first traveling to Tewkesbury, when I met the great
Light. This majestic Light had foretold that I would soon meet the
"soul of my soul." Upon remembering, suddenly this dream took
on an incredible significance!

From that moment on, I utterly cherished my good Lady Helen.

(2) Winter

Looking back, I could see that it was no surprise that my
meetings with Lady Helen actually gave me more of an
opportunity to engage in a true sense of spirituality.

Lady Helen had been widowed about a year before we
began seeing one another. She never mentioned much
about her husband. What I did learn from others, he was
more an out-doors-man. It was rumored that he planned to
join some crusaders and go to the Holy Land, but before
he could go he broke his leg falling off his horse. The
accident crippled him, kept him away from his natural
inclinations; and, thus, he grew bitter and grumpy. Lady
Helen endured, however, and other members of her family--
her children, and later her small grandchildren--made her

Perhaps her hard life with her late husband, or perhaps her
being suddenly free to become more herself, had prompted
Lady Helen to look more inwardly, to inquire, to lean more
towards a mature spirituality.

All I can say is that this good lady was a "boon" for me!
As a spiritual guide and teacher, I would make my priestly
pronouncements over which Lady Helen would put very
sharp questions. In my effort to answer, this good woman
forced me to think over what we were discussing.

We both were unafraid to be honest, which is an utterly
wonderful condition when it comes to a relationship.
In time we both had overcome what we called the
"artificialities" of the Church. What was meant here was
so-called man-made interpretations that evolved into
dogma and doctrine, that was more about Church Authority
than about Christ.

If my monks had been listening-in to our conversations, no
doubt they would have been shocked--since most had not
been able to rise above the piety level. The few scholar-monks
we had at Tewkesbury might not have taken issue, nor would
my friend--the Abbot of Gloucester Abbey--have been upset.
At the higher levels of the Benedictine Order, there were some
who were more spiritually open. These special monks had
moved into a near universal approach when it came to Christ,
the Lord of the Universe!

And here we two were, Lady Helen and me, sitting in our quiet
corner nearly like explorers. It was like we were reconnoitering
new spiritual milieux. And the Christ grew ever larger and larger
in our minds, offering us horizons that we could hardly imagine
just a few years back.

Oft laughing together, sometimes nearly uproariously, Lady Helen
and I were having *fun.*

(1) Winter

Chapter Four: WINTER

Life continued to be busy at the abbey. Being near the
confluence of two rivers, the whole Tewkesbury area
was prone to flooding. There were a couple of times
that flood waters actually encroached the abbey, but
somehow miraculously stopped short of doing any
damage. Nonetheless we monks sweated it out.

Slowly I continued the education process at the abbey.
However--no matter how I might have wished, there
was no way that I could convert Tewkesbury into a
Canterbury. I came around that no matter how I might
try, Tewkesbury Abbey would definitely remain a country

Part of me remained somewhat forlorn, because by
nature I was a scholar--and I definitely missed that
aspect of being a Benedictine. But scholarship was for
the few, for the more urbane I guess. I would have to
accept the hand that had been dealt to me!

I did fill in hastening my effort towards putting together
a biographical book about Thomas a Becket. I still was
inclined towards keeping this work personal and private.
But the project was coming to an end, so I knew that I
would have to begin making some arrangements if the
book was ever to see the light of day.

Consequently I started making arrangements to send
my book to Gervaise, one of my promising scholar-monks
at Christ Church Priory. We were close friends, and I
knew that I could trust him. I arranged for one of our
monks here in Tewkesbury to study for a year at the
priory at Canterbury, and I gave him my packaged book
to give Gervaise. There were instructions to keep the
book a closely held secret, and it was not to be released
to anyone until several years after my death. Also, I knew
that Gervaise would be smart and do all this quietly, so
as to protect himself in case there were ramifications.

Other than the book, much of my time was now spent in
a near rhythmic ritual. Of course the Benedictine lifestyle
lent to this, in that we followed the hours of prayer throughout
the day until evening. Nearly all our monastic activities
were mainly prescribed by Tradition. But as the abbot, I
did have those other duties that encroached upon attending
to business rather than the spiritual life.