The victory of suffering from ‘All We Know of Heaven’, wisdom within bedtime reading—the ultimate story of the Son of God: the Triumph of Weakness, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Antoine observes a visiting Tibetan abbess smash crabapples with her heel into the earth. She, the Venerable Cello–spiritual mother to over six thousand nuns, feeds herself with the dirty created mush. The simple religious woman entered the Cistercian monastery with a group of visiting Tibetan monks. The Trappist were unaware she was a woman until her nickname, Cello, was explained. The holy woman, saying over a thousand rosaries a day, is an immense survivor. When the Chinese occupied Tibet she fled through the Himalayas with thirty of her religious sisters. Only three would survive the mountainous trek. With respect to her gender, she was removed from the Catholic monastery, placed in the guesthouse. Antoine worried she would be insulted. The other Tibetan monks laughed at his concern, expressing the fact Cello would contently sleep upon the sidewalk if asked.
As sunlight drew away from the orchard, it came to him (Antoine), the thread that bound their lives together. Cello was abandoned by society. She was marginal. The abbess was as defenseless and as irrelevant to the world as an orphan. And as a monk, so was he.
The experience of many days clicked into a clear order in his head. Antoine saw before him a Cello who had survived immense suffering in the Himalayas to offer a living witness to anyone interested: nothing less than the reversal of world order. As weak as she was—as weak as all humans are—Cello was fully awake. The wisdom of peace was hers, an old woman grounded in “suchness,” her smile shining through all things and meeting no opposition.
He (Antoine) saw that his own behavior was to blame for his sour discontent. His growth as a monk had been checked by his own longing for a better place to live, better people to live with.