Monday, August 17, 2009

RDM #7 - The Monk on the Hill


So this week I am going to cheat slightly. If you’ve been following for a while, then you know that Rainy Day Monday is a day for me to pull an old post out of my blog, or a friend’s blog, that was perhaps overlooked, often because it was posted before they had many followers. Today’s post is in fact the first post by someone I know, but it is also his last post. It is in fact less than two weeks old, and is the start of a new blog. I thought I would feature his blog on RDM before he becomes famous.

John Forbis is a monk. And he lives on a hill. So it is rather appropriate that his new blog is entitled The Monk on the Hill: An Introduction. He is also a poet, and the name comes from one of his poems published last year. I am publishing from his blog today because I really like the poem it contains, and it has some interesting insights about writing.

Go and visit his site and welcome him to the blogging world. That will really freak him out, especially when he finds out he is being followed by a fish. :-)


Welcome to my site. I am an Anglican Benedictine monk living as part of the community at Mariya uMama weThemba Monastery. This monastery is a house of the Order of the Holy Cross, in Grahamstown, South Africa. Grahamstown is a university town and includes many other excellent primary and high schools. This population is about 40,000 to about 50,000 people when all the students are here. Our monastery is located in a rural area just outside of the town on 50 hectares of land. We are blessed with beautiful fauna, flora, scenic landscapes and exotic wildlife. Very few flat places. Our work consists of prayer first and foremost. Then, we provide a ministry of Benedictine hospitality to guests who come from all walks of life from all over the world. Organically growing out of both of these is our hospitality to the people and particularly children of the immediate area. We help children to have better educations from primary school on up to a tertiary education. This work includes the establishment and administration of scholarships and an intensive After-School tutoring programme. So naturally we are pretty busy.

My position here consists of providing the publicity for all of these projects and the news of our monastery. I edit a newsletter named Uxolo, published bi-annually and maintain the news for our website, I am also the novice master who is responsible for helping people discern their vocation to the monastic life as well as forming new men when they join our community.

So I was a bit reticent about beginning a blog. Would I have the time or the energy to maintain it? But the other thing I do is to write. I write every day whether it be poetry or any other piece of writing. Some of it has been published. Some of it has not. Some of it is garbage. (Don't worry. I don't plan to inflict you with it.) And some of it is well written. Such is the nature of writing every day. You have to dig through the mud and sand to get to the pearls. Some of those pearls are the mud and sand, just in a different more refined form. After some thinking, I realise that maintaining a page would not be quite the burden that I thought it would be.

I have named my blog The Monk on the Hill, with a nod to Paul McCartney and John Lennon's song, The Fool on the Hill. But it is also the title of one of my poems. It evokes the expanse and beauty of the hills in which we are settled as well as this beautiful country, South Africa. Hope you enjoy this site and if you have comments, I would accept them.

I thought it seemed only appropriate to post as my first piece of writing the title poem of the site. I wrote it a number of years ago as a reflection of the whimsical nature of many of our children. They instil in me a childlike desire for the impossible.

The Monk on the Hill

When the wind lifts the scapular of the monk standing on the crest of a hill
he thinks he could fly .

A small child wanting to come with him
grabs hold from behind
keeping them both earth-bound
to dust and dry grass.

The monk's habit is smudged
by tiny feet
climbing on his shoulders,

as if together they were a
flightless bird.

(published in New Coin)

If you are also doing a RDM post, please post your link in the McLinky widget below so that we can visit you as well. Please leave comments in the comment section here, or go to the feature blog.


  1. I enjoy your blog. Thank you!
    Blessings and prayers, andrea

    *there is a prayer request on arise 2 write

  2. How wonderful to meet John Forbis in Grahamstown through the blogging world. Thanks, Shark Bait. I stopped by his blog and let him know I liked the poem.

  3. "A small child wanting to come with him
    grabs hold from behind
    keeping them both earth-bound
    to dust and dry grass."

    WOW.....that is awesome.

    Thanks for sharing this....

  4. thanks so much for bringing this blog to attention, I will be checking it out, thanks and god bless! Joshua

  5. Hey there Shark Bait, stop by my place and pick up the gift I have for you!


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