BROTHER BEATALI’S GARDEN
What I know of the divine sciences and Holy Scriptures, I learned
in woods and fields. I have no other master than the beeches and
(Saint Bernard of Clairvaux)
There was no stain upon the old man; there was neither bitter envy nor petty jealousy to corrupt the natural wrinkles of his aged flesh; each deep line upon his jovial face told a tale of many years spent out of doors toiling beneath the heat of the sun and the cold of the winter months, battered by all the elements. He was a pious man without sin who tended devotedly and lovingly the garden of the Benedictine monastery as he had done for sixty-two summers. Each morning Brother Beatali inspected the lush gardens of the Monastero di Santo Benedetto which nestled in a sun-soaked valley beneath steep vineyards in a province of Southern Italy, to see which new buds had opened and which of his cherished children needed special attention. He would pick the soft ripe fruit for his fellow brothers to enjoy with their meal and take an armful of cut flowers from the rose garden into the monastery to bring God’s ‘wonderful glory indoors to saviour and to reflect upon nature’s beauty and bounty!’ Brother Beatali was a simple man of faith with simple needs, as all the brothers were and he delighted in his day’s work and never felt it was a hindrance to his spiritual progress for he fully believed that the work aided him and that a day in the garden was more spiritually uplifting and rewarding than a month of devotional prayers! Although he was old and quite frail physically Brother Beatali had the sharp mind still of a young man on the cusp of great learning and a life spent beneath the warm rays of the sun had hardened not only his skin which was tanned like some ancient exotic fruit but his acceptance that true evil inhabits the world of man which is reflected in nature; it also strengthened his natural capacity to love all God’s wonderful creatures! Rarely was he disturbed in his gardening duties unless he called for assistance from a fellow brother to help with some heavy or tiresome work which his withered muscles could not accomplish any more. Amongst the flowers and the shrubs, he was utterly selfless and each kind act towards the tender plants rewarded him with sore limbs and aching muscles for his devotion and he praised God for it! He would go on until his last breath summoned his soul away from his precious garden to God where he would tend the celestial gardens!
He supposed that he must have fallen asleep on the bench beneath the cherry blossom tree for he felt as if time had no passage and there was a feeling of great apprehension in the air which seemed to ring with the strange sound of a bell being struck which note seemed to stretch out into the distance, rising in tone before falling away. Suddenly he heard a voice from behind him call his name and he looked round to see a figure of a man come to greet him –
‘Brother Beatali, be assured that I am not here to direct you from your labours, for I am here to instruct you upon your sinful ways!’
Brother Beatali was shocked at what the stranger said and demanded to know with whom he was speaking and how he came by the garden which was strictly for use by the brotherhood.
‘I am to you an Angel of the Good Lord Almighty God, as you know me and I am everywhere for there are no boundaries; I would expect a more intelligent and higher evolved being to bow down before such a messenger of God, but I have no expectations of you Brother Beatali!’
‘Why should I believe who you are and what you say? You may be an evil spirit sent by the Devil to torment and tempt me from my faith in the Lord!’ said the old man. Then, the Good Angel of God came close to the old man and whispered in his ear – ‘Now do you understand?’ said the Angel.
The old man sat open-mouthed for what had been said was never disclosed to any living soul and the fact that the Angel knew such personal details proved undoubtedly to the Brother that indeed he was an Angel of the Good Lord!
Then the Angel continued: ‘There is no devil! Mankind’s ignorance in such matters proves that they are of a primitive mind and not worthy to worship God Almighty!’
‘My life has been one of devotion and prayer yet you call me a sinner!’ the old man said with a look of surprise and helplessness.
‘Yes, for you have sinned greatly and mankind for thousands of years has been guilty of such sins which must be cleansed!’
‘I do not understand!’ said the old man who had now fallen to his knees in supplication.
‘Do you really believe that humanity is the singular most intelligent species upon the earth? How absurd! Humanity was created to serve the major species and to assist it to flourish but mankind has persistently desecrated the higher life forms of this world!’
‘To what are you referring as the “higher life form”, for we are unaware of any greater intelligence than ourselves on this world or any other for that fact!’
‘You have devoted your whole life to the nurturing and destruction of that life form; your hands have wrung life from God’s children on earth and you say you don’t know! It is the plant kingdom of course, the kingdom that you have systematically and ruthlessly plundered and murdered!’
Brother Beatali was mortified and stammered: ‘But the plants are incapable of movement and speech, how can they be more intelligent than mankind?’ the old man asked.
‘Speech is the solidified excreta of thought, it is base and primal and not intellectual for those of a higher intelligence communicate by thought without the need for words of sound and it is common throughout the universe and all the universes that movement hinders intelligence and is unnecessary for the sedate body grows in a more refined emotional and intellectual capacity. So you must see that you humans are merely there to aid and serve the master species, the master species that you remove from the earth, that you twist and contort into shapes of obscene fancy in the name of “horticultural”, and interfere with in the name of “Botany”; life forms that you cut down and torture by putting them into glass vessels and watching them slowly die!’
‘My love has been a perfect blessing of love for the flowers and all the things that grow in the wild and you say that all this time I have been torturing and murdering my children!’ The old man said with tears in his eyes.
‘Since the time of Eden of which parable was given to you as a warning to end your wickedness when the great and splendorous garden of the world was created specifically for the plant kingdom to enjoy and flourish it was decided that they would need a species to care for them and to serve them dutifully and so was created the lesser-brained and physically unrefined inferior body of man! There have been many
The old man looked decidedly miserable when Brother Excelsis returned to him in the garden but Beatali said nothing to him and remained silent; there was an indescribable rage of hatred and anger rising in the good Brother which had never risen in him before and he spoke to no-one all evening and all night.
The brothers rose early the next day as they always did expecting their basket of fruit from the garden but when none was forthcoming they decided to look for Brother Beatali. And so Brothers Sylvanus, Excelsis and Abbot Peter Magdaveda, left the monastery in search of their loyal and devoted brother Beatali! Upon entering the walled garden the despondent scene of disruption and malevolent disarray of the beautiful garden struck them speechless. As they stood there looking round they could see smoke rising from a bonfire which had the remains of the shrubs and the cherry trees upon it; further they could see the stumps of the apple trees that had been savagely hacked down and heaps of cut roses and other flowers pulled out by the roots thrown unceremoniously onto a hill of dying and dead blooms, in fact, nothing was living in the garden whatsoever, everything had been destroyed. The brothers could only assume that Brother Beatali had gone completely mad to inflict such injury upon his beloved garden and was undoubtedly influenced by some evil spirit which had possessed him and during the night he tore down the whole garden in some sort of insane rage. After further investigation Brother Beatali was found lying amidst a heap of lilies and dahlias, cold and undeniably dead! It seemed his heart had given out following the utter destruction of the garden and so the brothers went away to pray and ask God’s forgiveness for what their brother had done before the task of clearing the garden and re-growing the fruits and the vegetables and the lovely roses began in earnest once more!