Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Reconnecting With My Past

Despite the rain and generally gloomy weather today I had a very enjoyable trip to the monastery.  I went there to visit with an old friend from my days with the Franciscans.  Several months ago he informed he would be on retreat this week so we decided meet and spend a day reconnecting and catching up.  I arrived there about 8:30 AM with a photograph album of pictures from the time we first met at Duns Scotus College outside of Detroit, Michigan way back in 1970.  I walked into the retreat house and there was my friend, Brother Brian, wearing his Franciscan habit and patiently waiting for me.  We gave one another a big hug because it has been many years since we have seen one another.  Our conversation soon turned to our mutual friend, Father Dennis, who we had both known for many years.  Brian asked me to show him where Dennis was buried so we walked outside in the drizzle to the small cemetery near the entrance of the monastery.  Much to my surprise and great relief there was a very nice monument over his grave.  I don't think Dennis really wanted a marker but one was purchased by another priest friend who is also the executor of Dennis's estate.  I found all of this out today quite by accident when I saw this priest in the monastery parking lot while Brother Brian and I were talking at the grave site.  He was there to meet a monk from Nigeria who was visiting the monastery.  The purpose of the meeting was to give this monk many of Dennis's priestly vestments and other religious items for use in his Nigerian monastery.  It is a monastery like Gethsemani but located in Africa.  I think Dennis would be pleased to know his things would continue to be used for the purposes for which they were made.

The morning went quickly and shortly after visiting Dennis's grave it was time for lunch.  Brian and I got our food and went to a small dining room where talking is allowed.  The people on retreat and the monks eat their meals in silence.  After lunch we met with another Franciscan who had come to Gethsemani with Brian and who I also knew.  We talked for an hour or so and shared many stories and much laughter.  Compared to the austerity that many people associate with Trappist monks, Franciscans have a reputation of being more joyful.  There is some truth to these perceptions.  Since my early formation was with the Franciscans I think when I was in the monastery I was sometimes perceived as being a little boisterous.

I could have stayed much longer because I was having a very pleasant visit.  However, the rain was picking up and I needed to get on the road to avoid the worst of the evening rush hour traffic.  It was great to see my old friends, to reconnect and update one another with our current lives, and to realize that through the ups and downs of the lives, we are all still "stumbling along the spiritual path".     

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