Brother Alfred entered the Monastery of Silence and the Abbot said, “Brother, this is a silent monastery. You are welcome here as long as you like, but you may not speak until I direct you to do so….”.
Brother Alfred lived in the monastery for five years before the Abbot said to him, “Brother Alfred, you have been here for five years. You can speak two words.”
Brother Alfred said, “Hard bed.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” the Abbot said, “we will get you a better bed…”
After another five years, Brother Alfred was called again by the Abbot… “It is time, Brother Alfred – you may say another two words.”
“Cold food,” said Brother Alfred, and the Abbot assured him that the food would be better in the future….
On his fifteenth anniversary at the monastery, the Abbot again called Brother Alfred into his office. “Again, Brother Alfred . . . two words you may say today.”
“I quit,” said Brother Alfred.
“It’s probably for the best,” said the Abbot, “You’ve done nothing but gripe since you’ve been here.”