The Sock of a Monk

The Sock of a Monk

by Jeffrey Brooks

There is so much to do. So much has been done.

Armies thundered across the plains, trailing excitement and terror. Where are those armies now? Cities rose and vanished. Empires spread and melted and fields filled in behind them. A mouse ran here and a lion ran there and now where they were there is something else. A tree grew tall and fell and returned to dust. A boy played behind a house. I think it was just a few years ago. Or a hundred. Or a million. Where is that boy now?

It seems that even the dust of all these things has blown away forever. It seems that in the place of all these things something else stands. Righteous and powerful, ridiculous or trembling, yearning or marvelous, peaceful or hideous, gracious or not, the forms arise and disappear endlessly throughout our lives and did before we appeared and will forever after we disappear. We can see that.

All these forms depend on what we do. All the joy or misery in the world and in our own hearts and minds and lives depends on what we have done and what we do now.

From a small wooden box a monk takes out his socks. He sits on a wooden chair and places his ankle on his knee. He brushes off the sole of his foot. The dawn just begins to warm the sky. A sock lies across his palm as he prepares to put it on.

For most of us nothing could be more pedestrian than footwear.

He puts on his sock. He touches it nicely. He looks at it. He is not thinking about much. He is not thinking about the sock, or anything else. But he looks at it and feels it in his hand and is pleased with it. He is not thinking that he once did not have any socks. That for years he tied torn shoes on to his feet to keep the feet warm and safe on the gravel outside.

He is grateful to be in that place and time.

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