Sunday, August 31, 2014

Who's cookin'?

You may have seen in the news that this weekend President Obama and his family attended the wedding of their personal family chef, Sam Kass, and Alex Wagner. Sam was a friend of Tom's kids back in Hyde Park. I think the story is that Tom's daughter Lucy is the one who first shaved his head, a look that he continues to sport.

Sam's father, Robert,is a schoolteacher at the private, co-ed University of Chicago Laboratory Schools who taught President Obama's daughter Malia Obama in the 5th grade. (Tom's former sister-in-law, Hannah, was principal of the school, which Tom's kids also attended.) Sam's mother, Valentine, is a science educator at the National Science Foundation and previously served as the director of Omnimax productions at the Museum of Science and Industry, which was just a block away from my studio apartment in Hyde Park. Sam got an AB in history at the University of Chicago and played Division III baseball as a right fielder with a career .366 batting average, ranking among the best in program history.

He went on to train under chefs in Chicago, Austria,New Zealand, Italy and Mexico. A man of many talents!

Sam began preparing meals for the Obamas when the family lived in Chicago and the Obamas persuaded him to join them at the White House. He is now among the Obamas' longest-serving aides.

Besides cooking for the family most weeknights, Kass also serves as senior nutrition policy adviser and executive director of the first lady's anti-childhood obesity initiative.


Letters, we get letters ...

The old Perry Como show had a segment "Letters, we get letters ..."  during which he read and responded to letters from viewers. It always began with a catchy little song and dance by young women dressed as postal carriers or some such.

1) I am not sure if Ur-Spo's comment -- "What a brilliant and succinct quote - I am grateful you made me aware of it" -- refers to the quote from John of the Cross or not, but since it is the succinct quote in that post, I will assume it does. 
I love that quote and used it on the holy cards for my solemn profession.
Interestingly, in Spanish the quote is  A la tarde te examinarán en el amor. Which is wonderfully ambiguous and richer than the English translations. 
For one thing, it does not say "in the evening of life" but "in the evening" (or even "in the afternoon.") Which could just mean at the end of each day, not only at the end of one's life. Since it was the tradition (still is) for the Discalced Carmelites to take time at the end of each day to look back and take note of how things had gone, he may have been telling someone the primary thing to look for in that daily examen.
Also, the literal translation of the construction te examinarán would be "they will examine you." They? God/the Trinity, one's peers, the ages? The passive construction found in most English translations is an interpretation, not a precise translation. But every translation is a betrayal in some way, as I well know from having worked as a translator and as an editor of translations done by others.
And being examined en el amor could mean that one will be examined ON love or IN love -- that is, one will be examined on how one loved or one will be examined in a loving way. Or both, the Spanish containing both meanings in one. 
2) Sunny asked apropos the post on moving, "Which of the moves was your most interesting and life changing?"
I cannot choose the most interesting and life changing. The move to Michigan was exciting and life-changing because it made me realize that the world was not only bigger than Huntsville, Texas, it was a great deal bigger than Texas. It was in Michigan that I first became really acquainted with Catholics and entered the Catholic Church. In Michigan, I had a black roommate and came to know much more about the urban black experience through him.
The move to Little Rock took me into a totally new world of monasticism, where I would spend three decades of a most interesting life, one that very few people experience.
The move to St. Louis for a year of studies with men and women from around the world made me realize that the world is not only larger than Huntsville, Texas but way larger than the United States, something my summers in Mexico had already begun to teach me. Many people told me that I came back from St. Louis very changed, and I think definitely in good ways.
The move to Maryland, although for only a few months, was life-changing because it helped me get a grasp on all sorts of health issues, both physical and emotional, and I met people who made my life richer, happier, funnier and free-er.
The move out of the monastery felt like I was stepping out over an abyss. The monastery was safe, familiar, secure. I was leaving all that behind and starting a new life at the age of 53. No pension to take with me, no financial security, no job security.
The move to the apartment with Tom and then the move here to Wisconsin Dells was major and clearly initiated a new phase of my life.
Which was most life-changing? Every day, I have come to know, is life-changing, every hour. And it is all interesting. And when it's is not, as I have said before, I know how to be bored.
 3) About that same post, Mitchell said, "I wonder if our paths ever crossed. We might have even passed each other on the road!"
 We certainly passed each other -- though the roads may have been hundreds of miles apart! 
I did a lot of traveling besides those moves: trips back and forth from Boston to Washington every few months for years, regular trips between Boston and Milwaukee, trips to give retreats in Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, California, Iowa, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Minnesota, Virginia, Delaware, Connecticut, Maine, North and South Carolina, trips to Canada and Italy and Spain -- including Málaga, which is near where Mitchell lives today!


Saturday, August 30, 2014


I was ...

Born in Gainesville, Georgia (1950)

Moved to Whitehouse, TX

Moved to Huntsville, TX

Moved to East Lansing, MI to attend Michigan State University

Moved to Monastery of Marylake to enter Discalced Carmelites outside Little Rock, AR

Moved to monastery in San Antonio, TX (studied philosophy)

            Spent much of the summer in a monastery in Mexico City

Moved to monastery in Dallas (got MA in Theology)

            Spent parts of two more summers in the monastery in Mexico City

Moved to monastery in Washington, DC (to work on PhD in spiritual theology)

Moved back to monastery in Dallas

Moved to monastery in Brookline, MA

Moved to St. Louis, MO for one year, studying at St. Louis University

Moved to monastery at Holy Hill outside Milwaukee, WI

Moved to Barrington, RI for a sabbatical year studying at Brown University

Moved to monastery in Brighton, MA

Moved to monastery in Chicago, IL

Moved to Silver Spring, Maryland for six months

Moved back to Chicago

Moved out of monastery, but stayed in Chicago in my own apartment

Moved into the apartment I shared with Tom in Chicago

Moved to Wisconsin Dells

19 moves – not counting the Mexican sojourns – in 64 years – about once every 3 1/3 years

Of course, I spent 15 years pretty much living at home with my family in Huntsville. So if you do 18 moves in 49 years, it is better than one move every three years. This is not surprising when you understand that the Discalced Carmelites, like many Catholic religious communities of men, operate on a three-year cycle of appointments. It being easier to transfer the younger friars, it is not unusual that I should have moved so often. And they almost sent me to Kenya!

Of the monasteries where I lived, I was in San Antonio only three months, then Dallas for four years as a student and again for two as a priest, at Holy Hill outside Milwaukee for eight years and in the Chicago monastery for five years all told.

Morning reflection

In order that I may be skilled in discerning what is good, in order that I may understand the path to peace,
Let me be able, upright, and straightforward, of good speech, gentle, and free from pride;
Let me be contented, easily satisfied, having few duties, living simply, of controlled senses, prudent, without pride and without attachment to nation, race, or other groups.
Let me not do the slightest thing for which the wise might rebuke me. Instead let me think:
“May all beings be well and safe, may they be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be, whether moving or standing still, without exception, whether large, great, middling, or small, whether tiny or substantial,
Whether seen or unseen, whether living near or far,
Born or unborn; may all beings be happy.
Let none deceive or despise another anywhere. Let none wish harm to another, in anger or in hate.”
Just as a mother would guard her child, her only child, with her own life, even so let me cultivate a boundless mind for all beings in the world.
Let me cultivate a boundless love for all beings in the world, above, below, and across, unhindered, without ill will or enmity.
Standing, walking, seated, or lying down, free from torpor, let me as far as possible fix my attention on this recollection. This, they say, is the divine life right here.
 Translated and adapted by Bodhipaksa from the Pali Metta Sutta

My morning routine involves meditating for half an hour or so after doing some spiritual reading. Among the things I read each morning is this version of a Buddhist teaching. I was particularly struck by the last line: This, they say, is the divine life right here.

More than ten years ago I was having a rough time, and I got the help I needed to deal with that. At one point during that process, as I sat in a group discussion with a number of people who were dealing with a variety of problems, I suddenly realized how much I cared about these folks who had been total strangers just a few months before. And even more surprisingly, I realized that sitting there with them, listening to them talk candidly about some of the most painful things in their lives, I was in heaven. I felt loved and loving and connected and content. 

Most people who were outside that situation and looking in would have thought I/we were in hell. But we were not. Somehow we were learning to "cultivate a boundless love" and, as they say, that is the divine life right here, right now.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Labor Day Weekend begins

Tom spent the day filling in for one of the conductors at the little railroad. He will do so again tomorrow. Fortunately someone else will take over Sunday and Monday.

Because the sealer coat on  our drive was still drying, our cars were parked down the road at our neighbors. I wanted to go grocery shopping, but I did not want to lug bags up the road to our drive and then walk on the uneven ground -- lots of gopher tunnels! -- through the trees to avoid walking on the driveway itself. I did make one short trip to pick up some yogurt, though, and a few other items to get me through the day.

For dinner, we had Thai chicken with spicy peanut sauce, rajma (red kidney bean curry) and garden rice. I had planned that meal and had everything already on hand. To be honest, I think mine looked better than this photo.

Now that the drive has baked in the sun all day -- because the 50% chance of rain decided to manifest itself as the dry 50% -- Tom and I moved his truck and my car back into the garage after dinner. We may go shopping tonight, but I doubt it. Tomorrow morning will be soon enough for me to pick up the stuff to make nachos for dinner. I hope they have blue corn chips!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ex libris

Today is my last [paid] day at the Kilbourn Public Library. I officially retired from working there full time a couple of years back, but for the past year and a half have worked one day a week, sometimes a day and a half, mainly assisting people with eReaders, tablets and other somewhat techy things. In addition I have done the initial draft of the monthly newsletter, kept the blog up to date and filled in where needed.

I enjoyed my time at the library, but it will be nice to be free of work-related obligations again. 

Because, there's no business like NO business!

One last plug: If you don't have a library card, you are missing out on the best deal in town: books, magazines, newspapers, DVDs, computer access and all that goes with that, special programs for all ages. For free! When I was a kid, we did not have a public library. I was almost out of high school before my home town got one. So I know what it is like not to have access to what the library can bring.

As it turns out, September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month. Get in there and get one! Or get yours renewed if necessary.

And I promise not to shush you!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


When I am old I want to live in a house, a house with a big front porch.
I will sit on my porch in a chair, a chair that rocks back and forth, back...and...forth.
I will rock in my chair and listen to leaves on the trees, rustling as breezes pass by,
And I will watch people walk by, on their way down the street, passing by like the breeze has caught them too.
Instead of nurses, I will talk to the voices in my head
And I will never be alone
With the people I see around me, whether they are really there or not.
I will talk to whoever comes by, tell great stories true and not,
And hope no one stays long, except those who have fun.
They can stay for as long as they like.
I will walk for as long as I can, and then shuffle with a cane,
And then one day I will begin to roll in a chair,
Until the day the wheels on my chair roll for me no more.
Then from the kindness of friends I will eat what is brought to me
But instead of pills I will eat cookies and cake
And I will say goodbye to the friends who kept me company for so long,
Friends who sat on my porch or laughed with me in my mind.
I will hear no machines, I will feel no needles or tubes,
The voices in my head will drown out the doctors
And the bitter taste of pills will not shrivel my tongue.
I will not stay alive if I cannot live,
I will not be alone if I am on my porch,
Where the breeze blows past the leaves, as the leaves say goodbyyyyyyye....goodbyyyyyyye.

Source: How was your day, Dan?

And following up on yesterday ...

I saw this on another blog and had to share it. It doesn't mean that I have decided overnight to toss my novel.

Well, not yet. 

Snoopy has a point -- not every story has to be told. Or published. I have read enough that were published unnecessarily!

Which reminds me of a snarky remark someone once made about the late Fr. Andrew Greeley -- influential Catholic priest, sociologist, columnist, novelist, essayist and so on: "He never had an unpublished thought."

Greeley died last year at the age of 85. He had published 70 novels in addition to his serious work in sociology. Asked to explain his prolific output, Greeley said: "I suppose I have an Irish weakness for words gone wild. Besides, if you're celibate, you have to do something."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Well, not quite.

Today I wrote the ending (more or less) of the novel. 

That most certainly does not mean I have finished it, but when I sat down to write, an ending came to me and I wrote it down before I forgot it. I already knew how the story ends -- that is, I know who did what and why and all that. And I wrote an ending to the shorter version that I completed some months back. The overall arc of the story is the same as in that shorter version, but it needed a stronger ending. Now I think I have that.

Which means that there is only one chapter -- okay, make that two chapters and the thing will be completed. Then another read-through and edit. And then another read-through and edit. And then ... at some point Tom will tell me I am just tinkering and need to stop.

I am not there yet. But I am moving along.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Last night a group of friends were taking about boredom. One woman had mentioned that she was dealing with boredom and everyone made suggestions or talked about how they dealt with boredom. A lot of good ideas were offered and she seemed grateful.

I said that I found one way that I deal with boredom is just by saying to myself, "I'm bored."

That's all there is. The world is not boring, people are not boring, life is not meaningless. But I am, at this moment, feeling bored.

Does it mean the world is going to end? No.

Does it mean I am going to do something crazy? Not unless I choose to do so.

All it means is that at this moment, I feel bored.

When I feel happy, [horror of horrors!] all that means is that at that moment I feel happy.

Boredom will pass. Happiness will pass. Yesterday was warm and beautiful. Today we had severe storms. Tomorrow it will be dry and cool.

Summer goes, fall arrives. Fall passes, winter comes. Snow melts, spring comes. And so on.

Boredom is just a season. And having spent three decades in the monastery, sitting silently for an hour each morning and another hour each afternoon, I learned a lot about dealing with boredom.

One thing I learned is that I do not have to entertain myself. I can just be bored. It's not a moral or emotional failure. It's just boredom.

 Does this mean I am never BOTHERED by boredom? No way! I am not always serene. But I try to move in that direction by continuing the practice of sitting quietly each morning for half an hour and being ... bored. 

And when I am bored and not distracted by other things, not even by my own desperate efforts to distract myself, I notice things about myself and my inner workings that I miss otherwise.

I am not saying that this will work for everyone. But it works for me.

PS -- As for Dorothy Parker's remark, the definition of curious is
  1. having a desire to learn or know more about something or someone
  2. strange, unusual, or unexpected
Personally, I think I qualify on both counts.

A hairy topic

For reasons that remain unclear to me, for the last couple of days I have been wondering about the word disheveled. It sounds like the past tense of a verb -- dishevel. And dishevel sounds a bit like not-shevel (like dislike -- get it, like dis-like?) and so on.

So is a person sheveled if he or she is neat? Or maybe just heveled, in which case the s is part of the prefix dis.

Turns out disheveled appeared in English around 1375-1425. It derives from late Middle English discheveled, itself from Old French deschevele, past participle of descheveler to dishevel the hair, equivalent to des- (dis-) + -cheveler, derivative of chevel, a hair, from the Latin capillus.

It seems that the French word originally meant ‘having the hair uncovered’ and therefore loose or unbound. Later it referred to such hair being messy or untidy. 

Actually, now that I look at that guy's picture, I realize why I have been pondering dishevelment. I badly need a haircut! [And yes, the word is dishevelment, spelled just that way.]

Today we use the word to describe more than hair, often saying that a person's clothes are disheveled.  

Dishevelment can refer to the confused state of one's mind, work area or so on. Use it in a sentence today and see if you get a reaction. I certainly plan to do so! 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Further reflection on fault and remedy

I notice that I get into trouble with fault-finding when I am not looking at what is wrong about a situation so much as who is wrong.

And who is wrong -- if indeed any who is totally wrong -- still doesn't remedy the situation.

Also I need to know what is wrong, or I may solve the wrong problem.

Click on image to enlarge.

I remember a Sunday comic strip years ago where a little boy is crying and his big brother runs into the room. Seeing a shattered toy on the floor, the big brother swoops in and says, "Don't cry! I'll fix it."

He runs out of the room and there is a flurry of nailing and gluing and taping. He runs back in and hands the results to his brother who is still sniffling.

"There!" he announces proudly. "I fixed your airplane."

The little brother looks it over and says, "But I broke a firetruck."

Happy birthday, Discalced Carmelites!

On August 24, 1562, Teresa de Ahumada and four women began to follow a new way of life within the ancient Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel at this monastery in Avila, Spain. That nice facade is a later addition. The building had been a private residence and had been secretly converted into a religious house because of opposition to the nuns' project. Teresa herself was only able to stay a few hours before being forced to return to her home monastery for a while.

San Jose was the first of many monasteries for men and women founded during Teresa's lifetime. She died in 1582 and was beatified 500 years ago as Teresa of Avila, canonized in 1622 and became the first woman recognized as a Doctor of the Church in 1970.

Today there thousands of cloistered nuns, friars, communities of apostolic sisters and brothers and laity (called Secular Order members) who follow her spirit in lives of prayer and service.

When Teresa died, the following lines were found in her breviary, the prayer book she used daily. Whether she composed them or not is unknown -- she was a prolific writer -- and they have become famous as St. Teresa's Bookmark.

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Too much public conversation -- and private conversation, for that matter -- often seems to focus on fault instead of remedy. 

I have noticed that when I stop trying to find fault and start trying to find a remedy, it can defuse the emotional tension of a situation and enable all involved to redirect our energies. Suddenly we are not on opposite sides throwing stones but on the same side, working to build something out of those rocks we had been hurling.

Or some such thing.

Friday, August 22, 2014

True dat!


Left hand column:
  • Sundance looks at door. (Is that for me?)
  • Michael gets up and opens door. (Yes.)
  • Sundance walks away. (I don't want it.) 
Right hand column:
  • Sundance looks at door. (Is that for me?)
  • Michael continues to work on computer. (No.)
  • Sundance commences to whine and scratch at door until the paint peels away in long strips. (That's for me.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Been there, done that -- both sides!

 I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.
~ Susan B. Anthony

Did you know ...

that today is World Mosquito day?

World Mosquito Day, observed annually on August 20, is a commemoration of British doctor Sir Ronald Ross's discovery in 1897 that female mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans.Ross is responsible for the annual observance, having declared shortly after his discovery that the day should be known as World Mosquito Day in the future. 

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, in a tradition dating back to the 1930s,  holds Mosquito Day celebrations every year, including events such as parties and exhibitions.

If you plan to go to such a party, I suggest you find an appropriate costume:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What can I tell you?

I have been working a bit every morning on the novel. It seems to be flowing, but I hope it is flowing toward resolution and not more complexity.

Next week will be my last [paid] day at the library. I am working on letting go psychologically of all the tasks that I know I will not have completed by then ...

The woman I worked with on the bookmobile called to arrange to meet for lunch next Monday. I ran across a ballad about the bookmobile that I had started when we worked together. I often made up silly songs to amuse her -- or annoy her -- and this one is based on the theme song from Gilligan's Island. I plan to finish that up and give her a copy.

Yesterday I set up a time to start up the fall sessions of tutoring with the woman I have been teaching for the last year or so. To be honest, she is doing so well that I am not sure she needs much help from me any more. Besides fine-tuning her grammar, I hope to come up with other activities outside the house to expand her vocabulary and get her talking more. One of the other librarians ran into her recently out shopping. The librarian told me later that she had been very impressed by how well the student is doing, which was gratifying because she had known the woman before we started studying. And my student recently took a new job where her manager is someone I know. He complimented her on her English and asked who was helping her with it. Very encouraging to both of us!

Tom is at the little railroad for a couple of days, filling in for a conductor who wound up in the hospital with low blood pressure caused by dieting. That guy will be back on the job tomorrow, which is good. I assume he will be more careful about what he eats. As is often the case, he is a good cook and enjoys his own cooking! Then he diets to undo what his eating has done.

We had about a half inch of rain last night, I think. They predict a slight chance of showers later today. Recently the predictions have been pretty far off: lots of "80% chance of storms, some severe" producing nice sunny days with occasional clouds. We are happy to do without the lightning, but the rain is nice to have.

And now I am rambling about the weather, which ranks only slightly above dreams in topics of interest. Enuff fer now.

Monday, August 18, 2014


A middle-aged couple of Jehovah's Witnesses came to the door this morning. I told them I was not interested and thanked them for coming by.

The woman smiled and said, "Absolutely!" in a perky voice and they left.

Back in the early nineties, I was with Fr. Jude at a meeting on the border in Texas. We had gone shopping and I ran across signs -- in English and in Spanish -- similar to the one below. As I recall, however, they were less friendly.

I have relatives who are Jehovah's Witnesses, and as a result, I try to be polite to those who come to the door. I  remember that somewhere someone I love may be knocking on a door like mine, and I would want them to be treated with respect at least. On the other hand, I see no reason to waste their time or mine. So I smile, let them know I do not want to talk to them and send them on their way. So far it has worked well.

I realize that some people -- missionaries, salespeople, fundraisers -- can be intrusive and need to be dealt with more firmly. I like the humor in this sign.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Watch out for pedestrians

My university-era friend Lee and his partner are about to move back to California from Florida. I thought of that when I saw this in the news:
Police in Moreno Valley, California were tired of drivers who failed to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks by claiming they “didn’t see” the crossers. So they dressed a detective in a large traffic cone and had him go back and forth in the crossing. They still caught 15 drivers, “many” of whom claimed they “didn’t see” Mr. Cone.
 Lee is moving to the San Diego area, which is about 90 miles south of Moreno Valley. Hope the drivers there are more observant.

More from the archives

Almost ten years ago I wrote a short story about a cat in a monastery. I called the story "The Prior's Cat" and began writing a series of short stories about the cat. As is often the case with me, I got several stories done, and then started one that got longer and more complicated and the whole project ground to a halt. Again, maybe I will pick it up at some point.

Most of the stories are told from the point of view of the cat. This one is from the perspective of Brother Denys, a rigorous character, who did not want the prior to adopt the cat in the beginning. Denys and the cat do not see eye to eye on many things.

I apologize if you find it a bit preachy. That is one of the things that make these stories problematic ...
The Dream of Brother Denys

Brother Denys wakes with a start. The pallet on his bed is hard, the bedclothes rough, but he usually sleeps well. “The sleep of the just,” he says airily to yawning Brother Alexander, who sometimes struggles with insomnia.

The tiny monastic cell is filled with light, but it does not come through the arched window above the table that serves as a desk or from the oil lamp on the desk itself. The light comes from somewhere else.

Rather, it comes from SomeOne else.

In the open doorway of the cell stands a figure, as of a man, brilliant with light, robes whiter than any fuller could bleach them. Denys cannot not make out the details of the face, nor is he certain that the figure is male. Still he is not frightened. A hand emerges from the light and beckons him to rise and follow. The radiance disappears down the corridor.

Denys clutches his night tunic about himself and pads along, shivering as bare feet touch the cold stone floor. 

The figure of light turns at the end of the corridor, and then leads Denys down a short passage and into the chapel. No candles burn on the altar or along the walls, except for the sanctuary lamp, but there is no darkness. The room is illumined by a living lamp, walking towards the altar.

There before the altar lies what Denys takes to be a pile of altar linens and rope. The figure goes to it, takes one end and ties it around his waist. He sits before the altar, and leans back. Denys now recognizes a backstrap loom like the one his grandmother used, a simple loom tied around the weaver's waist on one end and around a stationary object such as a tree on the other. The warp stretches off into the distance, towards and through the book of the gospels and the tabernacle up to the cross atop the high altar.  Light flashes from the threads as the weaver leans back to adjust the tension, and Denys realizes that they are gold and silver.

Even from a distance, he can smell the sweet cedar of the heddle rod. As it is raised and lowered, the threads of the warp open and close, always closing on one row of the weft laid down by the flying bobbin, incorporating it into the cloth and opening for another.  The bobbin is a great diamond, flashing its own fire, and around it wraps a coarse woolen yarn. The yarn unrolls from a hole in the top of a large spherical basket embroidered with stars, sun and moon. Denys can barely see the end of the warp fastened to the cross, nor can he fathom how the yarn which emerges from the top of the basket wraps itself around the diamond bobbin. But the warp stretches up into the height and the yarn on the shuttle never runs out.

The figure weaves on and on.

As Denys watches, the woolen yarn changes colors. At first the cloth it weaves is brown, gray and white, roughly spun and looking much like the hairs of beasts, irregular and pied. This quickly becomes blue and white. The weaver deftly picks up additional bobbins from the basket and works their threads into the cloth. Patterns emerge. Six-pointed stars and a many-branched candelabrum repeat for a while.

And the weaver weaves on.

The cloth becomes red and then a royal – no, richer. An imperial purple. Gold laurel wreaths appear, disappear and the colors become darker. 

And the weaver weaves on.

New, strange patterns take shape, and the cloth assumes an unfamiliar, wilder texture. The yarn now seems to have silver bells woven into it and it jingles as the bobbins fly faster and faster. Then bands of pure white with a solid but soft gray are followed by sparks from gems and nuggets of gold, silver coins and disks of ivory. Pearls, black and white, form geometric patterns on the gold and silver threads of the warp. 

            And the weaver weaves on.

The yarn appears to turn into vines, and leaves, fruit and nuts cling to the cloth. Seashells made their appearance, and Denys senses the tang of the sea in the air. Feathers flutter into place. A riot of colors bursts forth: shining sections of red, orange, yellow, green, purple. More bells, this time accompanied by beads. 

And the weaver weaves on.

The cloth grows beneath the weaver’s hands as the shuttle flies from side to side, and no matter what appears in or on the yarn that spirals from the top of the basket, the strong threads of the warp open to receive, the heddle tucks it close to what has gone before and opens to receive whatever will come next.

Fingers flying, the weaver smiles at Denys.

“Do you see, Brother Denys? The eternal can weave anything into its fabric.”

            The chapel goes dark.

            Denys wakes with a start. 

          His tiny cell is dark except for pale moonlight through the arched window above the table that serves as a desk. 

Lowering his bare feet to the cold stone floor, he shivers. Ever so softly he opens the closed door and listens.  

A soft breeze draws his attention to an open window in the hall, where Gamaliel, the despised Prior’s Cat, stares at him, immobile.

Denys slips down the dim corridor and into the darkened chapel.

       Nothing lies before the altar. No loom, no weaver, no threads stretching off into darkness, no feathers or pearls or vines, no basket. Just a candle burning steadily in the lamp beside the tabernacle. Hesitantly Denys falls to one knee, crosses himself and leaves, drawing his sleeping tunic close.

“A vision of the night?” he asks himself.

He crawls back into bed, determined to pay the experience no heed.

The next morning he does not even tell the yawning Brother Alexander about it. No need to bother anyone over something so foolish. After all, what could it mean?

Although he does wonder why the Prior’s Cat looks so smug.