Monday, May 25, 2009

I once met a monk

It was in the early 70s that we lived near a monastery which was famous for one of it's monks,Thomas Merton.His writings were published throughout the world and had influenced many believers,including myself.

My husband, small children and I went to this peaceful monastery and walked the hills that surround it.As we approached the monastery church ,we were joined on the shaded path by a tall, smiling monk in denim who had just come in from the fields.Ah, I thought, a spiritual brother of my mentor, Thomas.

We had barely said hello when the monk said,"I don't know what I am doing here".As we walked it became apparent that he had lost his faith.We walked and talked and a connection was made.

He came for Thanksgiving dinner that year and was happy to be having meat for the first time in 20 years.The turkey was bleeding but, in his kindness ,he never batted an eye.In time, we got a letter that he had left his monastery and married.He stopped by our house once, after we had moved to another state, and that visit in the early 80s was the last that we saw of him.

However, we always kept in touch ,by Christmas cards and an occasional letter.He was such a good writer that I loved hearing from him.His Christmas cards were studiously secular and mine were abundantly religious.The first one we got was bordered in black and we received many with cardinals and snowy scenes.We discussed his hero Carl Sagan once in a letter and I said that he suffered from hubris.

I prayed for him over the years and shared my faith and then in recent years the cards stopped.I didn't send any or he didn't and now I am not sure when I last heard from him.Until last Wednesday,when I recognized his writing on an envelope.This is all he wrote on a piece of monastery stationary.It is from "The Hound of Heaven" by Francis Thompson and the speaker is God:

"Strange, piteous ,futile thing !
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?..
Of all man's clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me ?"


Monday, May 4, 2009

Dick and Jane and Writing

May is a month loaded with birthdays,graduations and other special days.Off we went this morning to buy cards and gifts.The second stop was that incredible sports store,Dick's, where hubby found a light cotton shirt for his trip out West.One birthday down.

For Mother's Day, I bought myself a yoga strap for stretching so I can put away my green Dior scarf.Perfect.
Then ,the last stop-Barnes and Noble.If they put a bench and a blanket in there ,I would move in.

This gift was for my god-daughter who we just put on a bus to Memphis yesterday,it seems, and who is now graduating next week.She reads constantly and is an English Lit. major so I got her a biography of a famous Georgia author who died too young and owned peacocks.Flannery O'Connor.

Anyway, the cover is gorgeous with a small painting of the famous author and a beautiful painting of peacock feathers.I hope she likes it.

While browsing ,I also found a small Jane Austen journal.I confess that I have never read anything she wrote.Sue me.I have seen some dramatizations of her works on PBS and liked the stories but the quote on the cover of the journal spoke deeply to me.She wrote in "Mansfield Park" ; "We have all a better guide in ourselves,if we would attend to it,than any other person can be." This is it.This is why we write.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

In Whose Name?

The other night ,my husband and I watched "The Exorcism of Emily Rose".I had seen it before.It is not as frightening as "The Exorcist" but it is not a fun movie to watch.

The priest who performed the exorcism was charged with negligent homicide because the possessed young woman died while in his care.The movie is based on a true story that happened in Germany.Apparently, the girl's grave has become a pilgrimage site visited by the faithful and the curious.

I thought of this today while at Mass.The reading of the Acts of the Apostles for the day was Acts 4:8-12......"In the power of that name this man stands before you(healed.)This Jesus is 'the stone rejected by you, the builders which has become the cornerstone 'There is no other salvation in anyone else,for there is no other name in the whole world given to men by which we are saved."

In the Rite of Exorcism ,the priest prays this: "We drive you from us ;whoever you may be, unclean spirits,all infernal invaders,all wicked legions,assemblies and sects in the name and by the power of Our Lord Jesus Christ."There is much more to the Rite but it is performed, from beginning to end, in the name of Jesus.

We may wish that this was not so.The story of the bloody man on the cross may be a turn-off for us.We may want to find a way to save ourselves but that is not what scripture says.

When the rubber meets the road and the spirit world separation has been breached by evil, where do you turn? By what name can we hope to get help?