Tuesday, March 28, 2006
The Passing of the Megaphone
At the monastery all speaking is done around a rather large wooden dining table (this the original handcrafted by Sherwood Covington) during either break fast or final meal. Years ago Abbot Eastley started the tradition of ‘passing the megaphone’ which allows all brothers to voice their opinions, but only when they are holders of the megaphone (the megaphone a gift from the dear abbot, it has painted on the side “YALE”—his alma mater, of course that from his former life). When one is ‘holder of the megaphone’ one is allowed to speak, and all other brothers must remain silent, that is, we are allowed to chalk retorts on our small hand-held chalkboards (that we carry during vows of silence). Frequently the retorts are hot and heavy, with many brothers waving their retorts above their heads, but still, the ‘holder of the megaphone’ commands the air, but if the biscuits begin flying, and many fingers are pointed to a particularly clever chalked retort, then the ‘holder of the megaphone’ must past the megaphone to the brother of the clever retort. This ‘passing of the megaphone’ normally is done without incident, but at times the holder simply talks on. At this point it becomes obvious that said brother is a ‘refusee’. If further chalked retorts do not resolve the matter, then Bro. Sedwick, a rather large and dour brother, manhandles the megaphone from the hands of the ‘refusee’. Thus the megaphone is passed, not the normal 'passing of the megaphone,' but what we call a 'forced passing' of said megaphone. I should add, sometimes after a particularly eventful forced passing, the ‘refusee’ is pelted with biscuits (a sad sight indeed if the break fast fare included biscuits and gravy).