It's a quiet day at Abbey Fontfroide. No special events. No crowds. I sit on a bench in the rose garden, many varieties in full flower even this early in the season. A gentle breeze whispers through the foliage, surrounding me with the perfume of a thousand blooms. Birdsong erupts, fades, erupts again. I can imagine an acolyte in this very spot a thousand years ago, more isolated from the rest of the world than a modern man can imagine, seeking spiritual guidance.
My head tells me that this confluence of sight, sound, and smell is the result of geological forces, of mutation and evolution, random acts of chemistry. My heart urges me to be thankful. My head asks, "Thankful to whom?" My heart refuses to continue the conversation.