Journal

The tomatoes have advanced into whatever paradise God has prepared for fruit and vegetables. Esther has dumped the soil from their pots and picked both the green and red remnants of a  happy season. Never have I lived in such close proximity to the life cycle of a tomato. There they were, seven pots of seven plants climbing their stakes right under my very nose outside the window of my choir stall. There they were, progressing from seedling to expanding foliage to leafy branches decked with green glossy fruit--to big fat red fruits. Then the red ones would disappear from the garden to reappear on the refectory table. I think there is not enough sun for proper development where they were...

SEPTEMBER 18, 2013 Dear Friends, The year is winding down toward Advent. More about that later. Yesterday the president fulfilled his office as Mourner in Chief—for the fifth time in a full scale shooting incident. One of the tragedies had been in our beloved Tucson. Yesterday’s was in the DC Navy Yard. Deaths that did not have to be. Hearts that did not have to be broken. Good, hard working people who woke to a day whose ending they did not know they would not see. Three of us attended a memorial service on the 14th that was very different. J.D. (Braz) Braswell was a dear friend of the community, an extraordinary kind of person whose life is especially poignant...

Dear Friends, our landscape gives us a deal of fun at this time of year. No longer beige and brown, no longer the cheerful austerity of what I think of as "God's bones." but grass and more grass to the extent of our wondering whether Abel can keep up with it and give us defensive space before he has to come to an end of his summer work.     We do not have the seasons of the East, but our very own variety of       change. If only the peace of our fields and mountains could invade and possess all the human hearts in the world... our beautiful pampas...

With Fr Robert returned to his monastery, we went off to Mass on Saturday evening, driving through lush green hills and past herds of cattle munching away at the unaccustomed luxury of all this greenery. The monsoon rains, such as they are, have wrought a radical change in our world. You’ve never seen it like this. Well, maybe last year, but you’ve forgotten. Then when we arrive at the church which is on a side-street in the little town of Patagonia, what should we see but what I thought was a bride. A wedding at 5:30 in the evening? No it was a quinceanera, the celebration of a girl’s fifteenth year. Of course there will be a party. But right...

We just had a real rainstorm. It lasted five minutes, but what can you expect. It was honest rain and even hail, with a lot of wind. The Monsoons have not yet evaporated. There has been trouble with some type of caterpillar. They ate one whole walnut tree outside the Altar Bread building, and have moved on to the pecan tree in the dog yard. In addition, this is the season in which flies and gnats seek shelter within doors. They are little creatures of God, but STILL... The Holy Father has asked for a day of fast and prayer on Saturday. So we moved our Friday soup-and-bread lunch to Saturday, and included in our Celebration of Word and Communion a prayer for...

Because of our large windows, the outside comes inside. Because we live in such a marvelous physical manifestation of God, we develop a particular intimacy with the natural world he has given us. Bells have a sacramental quality and relate to the beauty with which we live. They speak out across the glorious western landscape and their melody carries the prayer we offer for God's world. Our entire life is a kind of sacrament--an outward manifestation of  the Gospel invitation to dwell quietly in the immensity of creative beauty. And your life? exactly the same, the search for eternal glory in the humblest place and action, in the sweet...

  Here is Cathy with the icon of Eternal Wisdom. there is something infinitely deep about the "writing" of icons, and no one who has dipped ever so slightly into its mystery is left untouched. Cathy has obviously artistic talent, but she had never done icons before coming to  us. The heart stops, and the breath slows when in the presence of an artistry which makes concrete the work of the Spirit of God in paint, prayer, and self-giving. one can hesitate to say, "her" icon, because the image is so much an expression of the eternal which it represents. it does not belong to the one from whose body and...

Dear Friends, My favorite tomato from beside the church is gone. Esther picked it and it weighs one and a half pounds. We look forward to tomatoes that taste like tomatoes. They are knobby and funny-looking but they outclass the perfectly round, anemic sort you get in the market, which hardly deserve the name tomato. Father Robert celebrated his eighty-something birthday on the Solemnity of St Bernard. How about that—being born to be a Cisterican. I prayed for our Jewish brothers and sisters. Many Jewish men are called Bernard because St Bernard got up out of his sick bed to go to Cologne and save the local Jews from a pogrom. “When you touch a Jew, you touch the apple...

August 11, 2013 Dear Ones, Today is clear, warmish, and sunny. I hope the monsoons are not over. They have given us our only rain for ages. And the grass leaps up as if it would never see moisture again. We look like Ireland, believe me. A day after Abel cuts it, back it is, waving in the breeze. This morning we had a squirrel at Mass—well, not inside, but right in front of the window behind the altar. At first it was in a prayer position—you know how squirrels sit on their haunches and put their little paws together. Then it scampered away. We are on the verge of having—pardon me—tomatoes. Not the kind you dump into your cart...

      We are getting used to seeing Cathy in her new black veil. Cathy came to us from the Missionary Sisters of Korea, and has her Green Card for US Permanent Residency. She is a delightful, talented and generous sister to us all, and we are grateful for such a gift of God. Her darling mother, in a traditional Korean dress she had made for herself, was our guest of honor, together with Cathy's sister and husband. Our Brothers of Erlac attended the Mass, with our Sister Lupita of the Benedictines in town, a priest from the local Korean community, and many of our "parishioners." Of such days are memories made.