I saw a mendicant monk today, watching the churning waters of the Merrimack. He was dressed in brown wool –the tassels of a rope belt just barely visible under heavy cowls. His feet were in sandals, with thick woolen socks as an accommodation to harsh northern climes. I could not see if he was tonsured — he wore a regular stocking cap in the same browns. He sported the wispy beard of a boy who wanted to see what would happen if he didn’t shave.
His long strides made quick work of the old metal bridge.
I have seen him before and wondered. What order is he? What brings him here? Where is he going? What does he think, in his anachronistic outfit. Is it a costume he puts on and feels all cool and monkish, an SCA member walking the ungentle streets of Lawrence? Is he a man so driven by call that he put aside not only fancy clothes, as his forefathers did, but all the clothes of the culture into which he was born? Does his stride with spiritual energy to do work among the poor? Does he like that we all slow down to look at him?