A Painting in the Monastery

There hangs a painting in the corridor between Brother Maximilian and Brother Karlo’s rooms. It is one of three paintings in the corridor, and the darkest of all three. That’s not to say it is the grimmest, it’s not an opinion, it has truly been painted with the darkest oils along the general landscape, from the foreground of dark, red flowers, to the extreme depth of the dark, far sea.

There is a solitary spot on the painting, however, the subject of the painting, that is brighter than the other two paintings, or any painting in the monastery. The artist used the brightest of blues for the subject, some brighter than the monks of the monastery thought possible. The blues seemed to be new colors to the brotherhood, and many even swore that the paint would shine after the lights had been turned off.

What it was that had been painted with such color was a topic of much debate in the monastery. It was beautiful and bright, and vague and expressionist, and abstract. Despite its beauty, the figure created sects on certain days. Sects brought about by the level of dissent in the arguments pertaining to its constitution.

Those who swore they knew it to be The Blessed Virgin sat at one table for breakfast, while those who were certain it was either a depiction of the Seraphim or the Cherubim sat at another. Others insisted that it was the risen Christ, which was apparent by the dark depiction of a hill full of olive trees on the left-most section, and the darker still court of high priests on the right.

It brought such factions in the monastery that it was agreed the picture was never to be discussed. It still was, only in hushed tones.

The Abbot, not willing to abide the dissension, took it down one day, and kept it in his office. This brought a peace for a few autumn weeks.

Having nothing else to dispute though, the brothers began to become petty in almost all things, even as to how many could be present in the smaller adoration chapel. On the night of the disruption, wherein Brother Olaf and Brother Theodore began yelling at dinner about the proper way to hold a knife, The Abbot returned the painting to the home it had known.

It did not take long for the Brothers to notice, and once again begin discussing the painting. Whether the bright spot was Mary, Risen Christ, Transfigured Christ, Angels, Divine power, Saint Bridget, or any number of ideas, all opinions were once again heard in whispers, and the quiet cliques returned. It once again became the quarrel surrounded by religious discussions which had brought peace in a broken monastery.

Flash fiction Monastery Stories

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