Sorta Makes Me Want to Live in a Monastery

Tim Bjella Sketches - Le Mont Saint Michel

The island of Le Mont Saint Michel, France, leads the pack of the world’s most picturesque monasteries. I’ll have to add sketching the others to my bucket list. Hmm… never been to Tibet.

Can’t Get Enough Monastery Humor…

A young monk arrives at the monastery. He is assigned to help the other monks copy the old canons and laws by hand. He notices that all of the monks are copying from copies, not from the original manuscript.

Tim Bjella Sketches - Le Mont Saint MichelSo, the new monk goes to the head abbot to question this, pointing out that if someone had made even a small error in the first copy, it would never have been noticed! In fact, that error would be replicated in all of the subsequent copies.

The head monk, says, “We have been copying from the copies for centuries, but you make a good point, my son.” He goes down into the dark caves underneath the monastery where the original manuscripts are archived in a locked vault that hasn’t been opened for hundreds of years.

Hours go by and nobody sees the old abbot. The young monk gets worried and goes down to look for him. He sees him banging his head against the wall and wailing, “We missed the “R” ! , we missed the “R” !” He is crying uncontrollably. The young monk asks the old abbot, “What’s wrong, father?” With a choking voice, the old abbot replies, “The word was… CELEBRATE !!!

Le Mont Saint Michel Sunset

Tim Bjella Sketches - Le Mont Saint Michel

Sometimes Lazy Works

The sketch above was my second attempt to capture the essence of this extraordinary place. Partway through I downshifted into lazy gear and decided to skip drawing the foreground. Laziness is apparently a virtue as it resulted in an unexpectedly dynamic composition. Compare this sketch to my earlier one at the top of the page. That sketch emphasizes the charming, scenic character of the place, whereas the latter sketch captures the architectural spirit. Same pencil, two different interpretations of the same subject. I wish I could say that that was my intent. Lesson learned: What you leave out is as important as what you put in.

I needed more time here. Maybe not a lifetime as a monk, but at least enough for a few more sketches. Or, maybe Haiku?

Off to an abbey,
For a life, calm and serene,
Live it up now, boy!

Tim Bjella Sketches - Le Mont Saint Michel
A one minute speed-sketch of Le Mont Saint Michel
Remember when men's shorts were shorter than women's? Let's hope we never see those days again.
Remember when men’s shorts were shorter than women’s? Let’s hope we never see those days again. Robyn and Tim Bjella at Le Mont Saint Michel, 1990.

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Tim Bjella

Principal architect and interior designer for Arteriors / Bjella Architecture.

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