I think I may have been a monk in the middle ages.
It wasn’t my first choice, believe me, and it wasn’t what my family had intended. I was the one in the order of sons of a noble house (I can’t remember if it was second or third) who was supposed to become a soldier but I was a bit of a weakling with more interest in books than in swords.
I went to the local abbey to have a word with the abbot there about joining the order. I believe it was a Cistercian abbey with Romanesque construction. We sat in his office, him at a tall writing desk before a window as I came in. He greeted me warmly, but when I brought up joining the order he resisted; God had meant for me to be a soldier, he told me. But I persisted. “So you will deny a man who wants to serve his Lord?” I said, looking him straight in the eye. He relented.
I went home to my father and told him of my decision to join the order. He didn’t take it well. He wanted me to be a man at arms, maybe even earn a position serving the King himself as a foot soldier. He said he would just as soon not had me as a son, and I replied “I don’t need you or my brothers when I have my father in heaven and my brothers in the abbey.”
It’s not that I was uncommonly pious, but it was quite normal to reference religion like that in conversation.
I believe my father in this medieval life was the man I saw playing golf in another memory. By his clothing- a loose tunic, baggy hose, plain shoes and a linen cap, I’d say this was probably around the 13th century, when styles were still a bit on the baggy side (before the advent of tailoring in the 14th century).
Then again, I had another possibly related memory of being married in what seemed to be 14th century clothes in a church with black columns. If I was married before joining the order, then it is possible I was either a widower at a young age or abandoned my family. Or maybe I never ended up joining…
I don’t remember anything after telling my father, and not a whole lot before that either… nothing about training to be a soldier from a young age (as I probably did) nor of monastic life, just this snippet of my story.
One interesting thing, though: I have a memory of a Romanesque abbey in ruins from my life as John. I’m convinced the abbey I saw in this memory from the middle ages is the same one John marveled over centuries later.
I’m really interested in finding that abbey now. I’ve done a little bit of searching trying to find abbey ruins in Somerset or Herefordshire that match my memory of low corridors with squat doorways and short, Romanesque columns. For that matter, I’d like to find that cathedral with the tall, skinny, black columns too.