A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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June 2007, vol 3 no 2

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Jerry Gill

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time, a gray, balding man now 66 was a young Trappist monk at the monastery of Gethsemani
in Kentucky. Early Spring here in eastern North Carolina where he now lives, he especially and fondly remembers those glorious early Spring mornings out in the apple orchard 40 years ago.

He remembers being out there in the crisp, cool dawn meticulously pruning the awaiting trees with a hand clipper, a long-handled "lopper," a pole saw, and, of course, a wooden ladder.
He remembers the sun's rising over the distant, wooded knobs.
He remembers the ethereal calls of the redwing blackbirds and their hustle and bustle every-
where beneath the sun.
He remembers the mingled fragrances of the apple, cedar, and evergreen trees, of the early flowers, of the calf and horse pastures, and of the warming, greening grass.
He remembers the distant, regular tolling of the bell.
He remembers pausing every now and then in his work to worship by taking it all in, and by breathing deeply the warm, fragrant air.
He remembers the silence of this holy place.
He remembers living that life for God alone with 250 other monks who also lived for God alone.
For he knew that a monk is an insignificant, fragile human being who lives for God alone along with all the rest of this verdant, blossoming, divine creation.


dozing in spring warmth
a former monk wakes up
when a church bell rings