Less demand, more seek...
Another winter was coming
and he didn't count how many had already passed,
another monk died,
there was only him and prior living there now.
The translation of the bible was finished
after twelve long years.
The small and thin in his grey worn out habit
the wise monk climbed the steep staircase leading to a cathedral
above the king's town,
summoned by the bishop himself
who heard about his foolish attempt.
He was just an insignificant monk
and bishop though his work was blasphemy,
he had never returned back to his beloved Red Monastery.
One morning the prior was not there
in their chapel
for regular prayers,
the young monk found him dead
in his cell.
He was about fifty when he stayed there
all by himself
and continued to collect herbs and heal those
who came to his gate looking for help,
and also cook and make a fire,
ring the bell and pray just like before...
another twenty years he lived there
just like that...
He dreamed but was not sleepy,
just living on the verge of dreamland and real world,
full of senses, wisdom and real purpose of being.
He started to see the colours around plants
and people, that come to see him,
going around body shape with his hands,
he could feel cold in places of pain.
There was an eclipse in 1761
he studied and mentioned in his 'Herbarium'
and when he reached the last page of his book in 1766
there was only only few more words he needed
to put down: ' Those who loose their homes will wander forever,
although they find places where they can recover and feel home,
they will never find their home again...'
In Anno Domini 1782
an elite soldier
of the royal regiment
holding a parchment
written by the king himself
climbed a narrow path
leading to an abandoned
a lonely wolf
among the ruins
and someone else
he had not spotted yet.
The young soldier never saw
a place like this,
used to tell him
about the monastery,
and the murderer,
also a famous healer,
who never talked,
but helped everyone
How old he could be now,
one hundred years?
No, it can't be,
he is long dead,
just like his father,
may his soul
rest in peace.
He sighed and looked up,
at the three mountains
lost in a mist
a narrow and unwelcoming valley
in front of him
a wild river
full of froth
and dangerous rapids
huge tall dark pines
his eyes can see
and among them
an overgrown path
leading to the ancient gate.
An old monk stood there
under the blackened sky,
snowflakes falling slowly
on his white hair.
The soldier stopped in front of him
tall and threatening
on his dark strong horse
showing the king's order
of eviction and resettlement:
“ Jozef II of Austria-Hungarian empire,
Bohemian, German and Roman king,
doesn't require your services any more...”
The old monk kept staring at him
with his blind eyes.
“ Can you hear me? The monastery belongs to king
and you go home.”
The old monk kept listening
with his deaf ears.
“Where is your family, where do you live?”
The old monk opened his mouth,
but there was no sound.
“Is there someone else living there?”
The old monk bent down
and opened a sack lying next to his feet.
The young husita
just waved his hand,
before the king
decides to do something,
this old monk would be long dead,
he was ready to leave,
when a worn out book
in the monk's hands
caught his eyes.
This is the herbarium, his father had told him about.
He bent down from his horse
from the monk's shivering hands,
wondering how the cover
from the human skin feels,
but there was no difference,
from the other leathery books he held.
He absentmindedly opened it,
looking at the pressed leaves
and handwritten notes underneath
when he heard the cautious footsteps
and the searching hand patting his horse neck.
“ So you are Cyprian, I thought you are long dead,
and this is your famous book, why did you cover it
in the skin from your brother's back?”
A warm wrinkled hand
touched his own
and suddenly the young soldier
felt so insignificant and small,
he came down
from his high horse
and gently pushed the book
into the monk's bony fingers.
The old monk opened it
on the first page
from the memory
so the young soldier could read,
what was written there:
' ...because I was sad,
I began to tell stories,
when I lost my voice,
I began to write them down,
when I lost my sight,
I began to play my harp,
when the music died in me,
I still had my body to feel
and hands to touch,
I began to heal...'
“ It was my father who did it, do you hear me?”
The old monk just closed the book
and handed it back.
Then he slowly turned around
and followed his footsteps in the snow
back to his sack next to the ancient gate.
The husita jumped back on his horse
and looked down on the slippery path
he needed to take,
keeping the book tightly to his chest.
Only once he turned,
watching the old monk
with his sack on his back,
shuffling up the mountains...
“ Hey, you will freeze there to death, I will not say anything about you and the Red Monastery...”
The young soldier shouted after him,
but the monk kept going,
moving like a broken twig
in an icy cold wind,
in the darkening winter sky
he stood there
on the highest peak,
for a second
he opened his sack
for the flying wings
his son once made
catching some wind
and when they did,
he hold to them
making few steps
towards the end...
The young soldier struggling
to keep his horse on the path,
as a tiny speck on the top
and then a little bird
caught in a wind
falling slowly down.
To see with your own eyes the ruins of the Red Monastery you need to visit the heart of my beautiful homeland, it you stop by in it's capital city just few steps from Vienna, you can touch by your own hands those two priceless books:
'Herbarium' by Cyprian ( Botanoteka fr. Cyprian), 94 numbered pages and 4 extra pages with
260 types and 283 examples of pressed herbs in five languages: Latin, Greek, German, Polish and Slovak.
There are also poems, reflections and comments about his life in the Red Monastery. He was cook, surgeon, barber, fisherman, candle and mirror maker, writer and painter, and most of all healer and alchemist.
There are three different years included in the book: 1766, 1768, 1765-71.
'The First Slovak Bible' by Romuald Hadbavny, the monk in the Red Monastery from 1756-59. His father Count Hadbavny sent him to Jesuit College and he lived and worked as a librarian in the Red Monastery from 1744. Few year after his successful translation of the Bible to Slovak language, in 1761 he was summoned by the bishop and sent to a small religious outpost on the Austria-Hungarian border. He kept writing home sad letters asking to be sent back to the Red Monastery.
Read, touch, experience and you may wonder how much of this legend is true....
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