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The Monastery Car Breakdown

a guest May 19th, 2019 103 Never
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  1. So it's the story of a man who works in finance. One night he's coming back from a late - very late - business meeting with future prospects and unfortunately his car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. It's the middle of the night, he doesn't know where he is but apparently he's in the middle of nowhere because there's no cellphone reception and he's seen no other car for miles. The second problem is that it's pouring outside, the skies are flooding the earth. And the third problem is that he doesn't know why his car broke down and he's not a mechanic...
  2. Still, he decides to go have a look under the hood just to be sure. So he gets out and not even two seconds after that he's already drenched to the bone. He has a look but he can't find anything wrong with the engine or anything else in the car. Unsure of what to do but knowing he has to do something, he looks around and, in the distance, catches a glimpse of lights. He decides to go towards it, hoping to find a house with, perhaps, a landline with which he might be able to call someone to help. And so he takes the bare necessities from his car, locks it up and walks towards the light.
  3. After a few minutes of walking in the mud and through a field, he finally reaches what he hoped would be a house but turns out to be a monastery. He's a bit dissapointed but still knocks at the door, unwilling to go back to his car. He waits, nothing. So he knocks again, a bit louder this time. Still nothing. The third time's the charm, he thinks, and knocks again, using the hughe brass knocker on the door. Eventually, after a few more seconds of waiting, he seems to hear the rustling of feet on the other side. Then he hears the lock clicking heavily and finally the door opens and a monk appears.
  4. "Yes, hello? What is it?" the monk asks with a friendly smile.
  5. "Uhm, hi", the man says, "I'm sorry to bother you so late, uh friar, but I was driving back home when my car broke down not far from here. And since I there seems to be no reception and I'm not a mechanic, I came here after seeing the light and hoped I might use your phone to call some help..."
  6. The monk looks at him and seems to think for a moment before replying.
  7. "I'm so sorry, my son, we will not be able to help you much in the matter of calling help, for we do not have a phone here... nor anything too modern, in fact..."
  8. The man can't help but be slightly disappointed at this news, but the monk continues.
  9. "But, if you want, we can offer you a place to stay, dry up and sleep for the night if you want. And in the morning I shall send a few brothers to have a look at your car and perhaps help you or fetch a mechanic from the nearby village if you want", the monk says, still smiling gently.
  10. "Well I'd gladly accept, it's always better than to stay outside all night if I'm stuck here...!" the man says.
  11. "Very well, come in quickly then, we'll get you warmed up!" the monk says, ushering him in.
  12. The monk closes the door and leads him towards the common room of the monastery while explaining that he is named Friar Bertram, that he is one of the three head friars in the monastery, and that they are about eighty friars living there all year round. He is lead near the chimney and sat at a table in the common room and given a tasty albeit frugal dinner. After eating a bit and being given clothes to change in, he is offered a simple room with a simple bed to sleep until morning. The monk wishes him a good night and leaves. So, having nothing else to do, the man lies down to sleep, and sleep he does.
  13. Until a couple of hours later when he is woken up - still in the middle of the night - by really strange sounds. The strange thing is that he cannot either say what those sounds are nor where they are coming from. He listens for a while but is unable to answer either of those questions... Eventually he falls back to sleep.
  14. The next morning he wakes up and after getting dressed he walks over to the common room. There he meets with Friar Bertram who greets him and offers to give him a tour of the monastery after breakfast. The man agrees and during breakfast Friar Bertram explains to him that earlier in the morning he sent a couple of brothers to go and check his car. Fortunately, he says, it seems they will be able to repair his car without having to go fetch someone from the village next door. The man is very glad to hear this news and so, while waiting for his car to be repaired he agrees to let Friar Bertram give him a tour of the monastery. He thus visits the common room, the chapel, the cloister, the gardens, the nearby fields where most of the monks work by hand, and the small woods next to the monastery.
  15. Finally, as they walk back to the monastery, the friar tells him his car should be repaired by now and that he might be able to leave. The man thanks him but suddenly recalls the events of the previous night.
  16. "Say, Friar Bertram, may I ask you a question that might seem strange?", he says.
  17. "Why yes of course, if I can answer I will!", the friar replies.
  18. "Well, you see, last night, as I was trying to sleep, I heard strange noises. I couldn't however point out what they were nor where they came from... Could you tell me what they were?", he asks.
  19. The Friars smile wavers a little as he lets out a sigh.
  20. "Well, my son, I would if I could. For you see, this is part of the life of the monastery that I cannot divulge to people who are not part of our order... Know that it is nothing abnormal, simply it is part of our mission as men at the service of God." the friar says apologizing kindly.
  21. "Oh...", the man replies, "Are you really sure you can't explain?"
  22. "I am afraid not...", the friar apologizes once again.
  23. "Very well, I understand," the man nods, thinking that since he's leaving soon it's not that big of a deal.
  24. They then go to his car, which has been brought into the monastery's courtyard. Everything has been repaired and it works perfectly once again. The man thanks the monks and, after eating with them once again, leave the monastery, thanking Friar Bertram and the others, and vowing to drop by once again in the future. Then he goes on his way and manages to get back home safely, without a single hitch.
  25. (I know you might think it's over just like that but no! There's more!)
  26. Years later, having never returned to the monastery despite his promise, because of his work and life getting in the way, a strange thing happens to the very same man. He is driving back from a late meeting, once again in the middle of the night, once again under a pouring rain. And (I kid you not!) his car breaks down in the middle of nowhere once more. He checks his phone, no signal. Then he gets out to check his car, but still ignorant of the ways of the car repairman's ways, he doesn't know what to do to fix it. So he looks around and, noticing lights in the distance, is finally hit with a wave of déjà-vu.
  27. He takes his stuff out of the car and walks towards the lights, on the mud path and through the fields. Finally, after a few minutes he reaches a big building that he feels he recognizes. He knocks at the door a first time, but nothing happens, so after a few seconds he knocks again, still nothing. The third time he is about to use the brass knocker but just as he reaches for it the door opens. That's when he remembers what happened all those years ago. He recognizes the somewhat familiar face of Friar Bertram, and it seems Friar Bertram also recognizes him.
  28. "Hello friar", he says, "I'm sorry to disturb you so late in the night but my car broke down not far from here and since I have no signal on my mobile phone, I was wondering if I could use your landline... I have a feeling though that this won't work either...", he adds with a smile.
  29. "No, indeed, we do not have a landline. But you are welcome to come in if you wish, we will gladly have you for the night! In the morning I will send a few brothers to check your car and if need be, to go fetch someone in the village nor far away from here."
  30. So the man accepts and, being once again taken to the common room to warm up near the chimney, he explains what he has been up to to the friar and the friar recounts what has happened during those few years. He is given to eat and is then offered a room and a bed for the night. He accepts and the friar excuses himself before leaving him alone for the night. The man lies down and goes to sleep.
  31. And (once again, I kid you not!) in the middle of the night he is woken up by strange sounds in the monastery, sounds which he cannot pinpoint and the origin of which he cannot explain... This time, recalling his previous visit, he goes out of his room and roams the corridors for a bit. No matter his best efforts, however, he is unable to find anything else in relation to the sounds that might explain them. Defeated, he goes back to his room and manages to fall back asleep.
  32. The next morning he is woken up by the bells and, after getting dressed, goes to meet Friar Bertram in the common room. The Friar offers him breakfast and, once they are done eating, a tour of the monastery. The man agrees and he is led through the cloister again, into the kitchens where a handful of monks are actively working to clean the tableware, through the library, which is old, huge and dusty, filled with handwritten books. They pass through the great dormitory and go up the bell tower where they admire the view while talking about life until the time comes for them to go check on the man's car.
  33. This time the monks weren't able to repair it, but they had it sent to the repair shop in the nearby village, and by the time he and Friar Bertram have done all this, the car is brought back completely repaired, and the sun is beginning to set. The man thanks them all for their help and prepares to leave. But as he is getting in his car, he stops and turn to Friar Bertram.
  34. "I'm sorry to bother you more than I should, friar, but I have a question before I leave and I need to know the answer..."
  35. "You wish to know about those strange sounds you mentioned last time, don't you?" the friar says plainly with a knowing nod.
  36. "Yes," the man replies, "I absolutely have to know! Please, wont you tell me, just this once?"
  37. The older monk shakes his head with a sorry smile.
  38. "I apologize, my son, but I cannot. As I said years ago, this is part of the life of the monastery and you are not part of our order, we therefore cannot tell you..."
  39. The man nods, disappointed to still not know after those years... He seems to hesitate for a moment before speaking again.
  40. "And... what if I were to join the order? Would I be able to know then?", he asks.
  41. The monk nods.
  42. "Of couse, you would be one of us then, there would be no need to keep the secret anymore. But know that it is not simple to join us, you would have to pass a tribulation..."
  43. "A tribulation?", the man asks.
  44. "Yes, you would have to go about the world and count the grains of sand. All of them. And once that would be done, you would have to come back and tell me how many you counted. Only then would we be able to welcome you in our order..."
  45. The man thinks for a moment, pondering, and then settles on his choice.
  46. '"Very well then. I must know, so I will go through this tribulation!", he exclaims.
  47. The friar nods with a small smile. All the friars of the monastery are then gathered and the man is sent of with their blessing. And so, he begins his journey across the world. For months he walks, roaming the world's beaches, then its deserts, crossing plains, seas and oceans... Years pass, and he is counting, patiently, with an unwavering determination. When finally he reaches the last strip of sand in the world, ten years have passed.
  48. Finally he returns to the monastery, he knocks on the door, this time using the brass knocker. The door opens and he is greeted by the same, albeit older, face of Friar Bertram. He explains he has accomplished his task. Friar Bertram welcomes him in, and he is brought before the congregation, where he is asked about his tribulation and how many grains of sand he has counted. He replies to all and every question with patience, and finally, after a long deliberation, he is officially deemed worthy and welcomed into the order.
  49. All the monks prepare a feast and a celebration in his honor, nothing too extravagant but a cheerful celebration nonetheless. He is given his frock, and is taken to a small yet comfortable room that will be his. He is given the rules of the monastery: wake up at six, pray several times a day, and accomplish his daily tasks as best as he can. Finally the evening comes and night falls. He is walking with Friar Bertram towards the library when he cannot hold it in anymore.
  50. "Friar Bertram?", he asks.
  51. "Yes, my brother. What is it?", the friar replies.
  52. "I am now truly a part of your order, am I not?"
  53. "Yes, it is true."
  54. "Then, would it be possible for you to explain to me the origin of those strange sounds that I heard all those years ago?"
  55. The friar looks at him, a small smile on his lips.
  56. "Well of course! You are, after all, now an integral part of our order so nothing says you cannot be told.", he replied. "Follow me," he adds before walking towards the center of the building.
  57. The man follows Friar Bertram as they pass by the kitchen, the library, the cloister and turn toward the common room. Before they reach the common room, however, the friar stops near a huge door and opens it, revealing a set of stairs going down into the underground. The friar leads the way and beckons the man to follow him, so he does. They descend deep into the earth, far under the monastery and finally reach the underground floor which is revealed to be the cellar. Barrels upon barrels of wine are lined up against the walls. He counts at least a hundred as they walk across the room, following the flickering flame of the torch.
  58. They reach a doorway and step through, entering a smaller yet unfathomably deep corridor. The friar treads on so the man follows him. They walk for what seems a quarter of an hour, following the twists and turns of the corridor. Finally they reach a wooden door, and the friar speaks for the first time since reaching the cellar.
  59. "Behind this door, my brother, we shall come upon the source of those strange sounds you could hear at night. Worry not, for what you are about to witness is part of the life of the monastery and is completely harmless."
  60. He then searches his pockets to bring out a huge metal ring on which are attached a multitude of keys. The friar fetches the smallest and most recent-looking one and inserts it in the keyhole before turning it. The door clicks open and they pass through... only to reveal another corridor diving deep into darkness. The man finds it peculiar but since the friar invites him to follow him, he does, and they tread on. They walk for about another quarter of an hour before coming up to another door, this one seemingly made of steel. Once again the friar turns around.
  61. "My brother, your quest has lead you all the way here, and I assure you, you shall not be disappointed by what you are about to witness," he says before once again fetching the huge ring and taking the longest key of all and inserting it into the keyhole.
  62. The door clicks open, the friar opens it slowly and reveals yet another corridor diving deep into darkness behind it. The man can't help but forming doubts in his mind, but the friar, seemingly sensing his questions, tells him to trust him, that he will soon find out what he has come here to find. And since the friar invites him to follow him, he does, and they tread on one again. They walk for about another quarter of an hour before coming up to another door, this one pure silver. Once more the friar turns around.
  63. "My brother, soon you will know, and it will change you forever, but trust me, it will change for the better and you will be a whole new man once you walk out of here.", he says before once again fetching the huge ring and this time taking a beautifully carved key.
  64. He inserts the beautifully carved key into the keyhole and turns. The door clicks and opens to reveal a third corridor. This time the man can't help but voice his concerns, but once more the friar reassures him that he will soon know, and that turning back now would be a waste of his whole tribulation... So the man follows him once again as they tread through the long and twisted sets of corridors. They walk for about another quarter of an hour before coming up to another door, this one shining gold. Once more the friar turns around, but the man interrupts him before he has a chance to say anything, voicing his annoyance and demanding to be told exactly what was going on.
  65. "My brother, you have sought this for too long to abandon it now. Have faith, this is what the world is balanced on and you must accept it into your heart. Soon, very soon.", the friar replies before fetching the ring and opening the door with a heavy golden key. The now opened door reveals yet another corridor, and the man now starts to get very annoyed, but the friar turns toward him and whispers "have faith". So, having learned patience as mother virtue of all others during his tribulation, the man takes silence as his wife once more and follows the monk into the heart of darkness.
  66. They walk and walk for about another quarter of an hour before coming up to yet another door. This time it is made out of rough yet pure and breathtakingly blue diamond. This time the man doesn't even think about raising his voice or getting angry, for he has a feeling it would be pointless, and that the most pressing question in his heart is about to be answered...
  67. The monk turns toward him and says:
  68. "This life is wonderful, and so is the next, assuredly, but you cannot appreciate it truly until you have witnessed what I have witnessed. Worry no more, however, for you shall soon know too!"
  69. And on these words he fetches once again the large ring and takes a key ornate with a single ruby on its head, he puts it into the keyhole and turns. The door clicks, and as he slowly opens the door, the sweetest angelic music the man has ever heard comes to his ears, a golden halo seems to emanate from the room, and perfumes he never had thought to breathe tickle his nose, beckoning him to enter. He looks at the friar, the friar looks at him, a satisfied smile on his face, and with a wave of his hand, invites him to go in.
  70. The man walks in and, as his eyes adjust to the luminosity of the room, he is left in awe, pure unadulterated awe at what he is witnessing. The spectacle before his eyes is just... unbelievable. All his senses are overloaded and he cannot help the tears that begin to roll against his cheeks... Beyond that final diamond door lies the answer he has sought, knowingly and unknowingly, for all these years, and finally he feels purpose and satisfaction in life.
  71. For beyond that final diamond door, dear reader lies... lies... well, I don't know if I should say... After all, you are not part of the order, so you aren't really allowed to know, are you?
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