The Bell Rope

Image“When another passenger asked him why he was going to a monastery, he said, “I must be about my Father’s business.” In some mysterious way, that summed it up for Bernie. But he had not abandoned all worldly interests. During the Atlantic crossing, he met and fell in love with a glorious young woman. He was in conflict. He had made a promise to God to enter the Charterhouse, but God had presented him with this dazzling woman. What idd God want him to do? He let it simmer and stew in his head, but when the boat docked in Liverpool, instead of going to the Charterhouse, he accompanied the young woman to her home in Manchester. STill dazzled, he took her to a movie theater and arrived there in time for the last of the commercials that preceded the feature film. The ad showed a line of Carthusian monks on their way to church. With monastic chant in the background, the ad went on to promote green Chartreuse liquer. Bernie didn’t need any more signs. He got up immediately, said goodbye to the young lady, and set off for London and then on to Sussex.”

“A young brother, Edmund Tippen, had left Parkminster to fight in the war. Brother Edmund said, “I am the youngest, and it is my duty to fight for my country.” He returned to Parkminster the very day he was discharged, covered with military honors. By nightfall, he had changed his uniform for a habit and was at his place for Night Office. When the newspapers called the Charterhouse for the story, the Procurator told them, “We are strongly opposed to any sort of publicity.” Brother Edmund was universally loved in the order, being rough, humble, and nonjudgemental.

-An Infinity of Little Hours, Nancy Klein Maguire

The story of the first arrival of the five young men to the Carthusian Order happens on July 13, 1960. Exactly 20 years before my arrival into this world. This book feels very personal even from page nine.

We continuously seek milestones as we go. When we look back, we want to remember some defining moments by the milestones we set. I find it ironic that the store I work at right now is located in the Milestone Shopping Center.” No kidding! 

But what’s important to never forget is that we are arriving somewhere every day, and every moment. The moment we woke up this morning was the most defining moment of all the days we have lived on this earth so far. 

These five young novices of the Carthusian order, pulled down the bell rope in doubt, fear, and anticipation upon arrival. That big day of their lives is recorded like some unforgettable moments in a great novel. But it’s not just these monks that are arriving. 

We arrive at the door in faith every day. What awaits inside is unknown to the outsider. So what do we do?

We grasp the bell rope. Just like these monks have taught us.




* Parkminster Charterhouse Photos.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks for your reflection on the book. I think I’d like to read it.

    1. lilyboat says:

      I got it at the local library. The writing style is beautiful and reads like a novel. But it’s all nonfiction of course. The author is a scholar-in-Residence at the Folger Library D.C.! She’s not far from me at all which makes the reading even more enjoyable. I highly recommend this book!

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