The Monastery 

A monastery thrived in the dark mountains. The monks prayed and worked. Golden grain swayed in the fields; codices filled the libraries. The walls rose high into the starry heavens. All of the brothers got along well, and there were none of the typical vices or complaints. For miles all around, one could hear the church bells tolling the sweet rhythms of an earthly paradise. One brother was especially grateful and began to pray one evening to voice his thanks to heaven. An angel suddenly appeared and asked the brother what life was like. Exuberant, the monk said that he was living in paradise! A soul could only grow and continue to grow in such a place of purity and sanctity! It was quiet for a long time. Then the angel spoke into the penumbra of the cell. Sixty thousand souls have just perished from war and plague; I must gather many souls to take them to their blissful rest. I do not know if I shall see you again. The monk was horrified and demanded to know the reason. Nobody asked you to live in paradise, the angel replied. The road to heaven leads through hell. 

The Long March 

Marching against their will down a winter road, the skeletons in chains headed for the towers of darkness. I told you we should have joined the other army, said one. You are an idiot, said his comrade. No matter who won, we were headed for prison anyway. Why would you say that? the first one demanded. Because we have voices, the other whispered. They stared into the silence of dead golden grass and naked trees immersed in snow. The wind blew through their threadbare coats.

The Man Who Was Interrupted 

The man who was interrupted [ ]. Living in the lost [ ] century, he worked as a librarian [ ], until [ ] drove him into the monastery for a [ ]. After the great [ ], he traveled and taught [ ]. Shadows haunted him, shadows of centuries to be buried in oblivion and centuries yet to dig their graves. They haunted him, and told him that he did not exist. Manuscripts [ ], and thus many conclude that [ ] because of the strange markings. Nevertheless, history relates that he was often [ ] by idiots, clerics, and thieves. The first incident involved [ ], when he attempted to explain the motion of [ ], but they began to [ ]. In the second incident, he spoke of tests, namely those that have [ ]. Then he spoke to them of [ ], but this did not [ ]. The last time anyone saw him was at [ ] in the year [ ]. There was a great eclipse. And [ ] was present, but every time he [ ], somebody [ ]. Alone, in the twilight of the winter labyrinth, he found [ ], who reportedly [ ] in the last codex. There he is said to have [ ]. There are thirteen ways of looking at straw, he said to her. It is light, golden, burnable, mystical, [ ] insubstantial, poor, [ ], [ ], [ ] for twining, for kindling, [ ] and [ ]. And she answered, I love [ ]. 

The Man Who Walked 

There was once a man who walked into the silence to raid the ineffable. And in the morning, he reasoned with the fishes, but they began to rot. Thus, he walked from the shore and into the hills. Then he whispered to the cedars, and they smoked and turned to ash. Once again he walked through the broken towns of dirt and stone, a man of law in a lawless place. And he argued letters and numbers with the shadows, but the shadows ran away into the darkness. In the silence of the eclipse, the man who walked prayed, as one by one the flown birds were extinguished and became extinct. Who was this mystic? the teacher interrupted in rage. What an inept, shallow novice! Who could he be? And the angel wept, and whispered, The One all mystics seek.