Monday, September 24, 2007

23 September 2007

This weekend was the Marianists’ province chapter in Dayton, so one of the Brothers in another local community in the area asked me to house-sit, since all the Brothers in that house would be out of town. I wish I could say that I made a mini-retreat out of it and immersed myself in solitude for three days, but that would be a lie. Friday night a friend and I watched Pan’s Labyrinth on DVD – if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s a sort of mĂ©lange of real world and fantasy world, set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, and its use of classic themes from various myths and legends from all over the world is rich and polyvalent. It’s a dark film, and very violent at times, but beautifully done.
Saturday I got up early to work with Habitat for Humanity in a somewhat rougher part of the city called the Mark Twain neighborhood. I have loved Habitat ever since my days at Catholic High, and this was a particularly great day to be on the job. First, it was a great day to be outside – mid-80s, not a cloud in the sky. Second, a bunch of students from the SLU Habitat group happened to be working on my build site, so I got to meet some of them. Third, and most important, there was a lot of stuff to hit and dig. We were mostly working landscaping all day, and when the site manager told us that, I was a little disappointed because I figured I’d be planting flowers and that kind of thing. Not so much. I ended up spending about 6 hours digging holes for trees with a post hole digger, breaking up old bricks and concrete with a pickaxe, and moving wheelbarrows full of rocks. As you might expect, I was pretty beat up by the end of it all. It is a blessing to be able to go and hit stuff and dig holes and be engaged in physical labor for a while, but it always reminds me of how grateful I am for higher education. Still, it was a great day.
After all the fun and games, I went home and collapsed for a couple of hours, but my friend Laura had her two sisters in town, so they all wanted to go out to City Museum. Of course, I’m an idiot, so I couldn’t pass up City Museum, so we went and ran around and climbed stuff for another two hours or so. When I finally crawled home after all this abuse, I felt like I had been on the receiving end of the aforementioned pickaxe, but it was completely worth it.
After I woke up this morning and tried to stop the shaking in my hands long enough to get a few spoonfuls of cereal from the bowl to my mouth without spilling milk all over the table, I finally did enjoy having the house all to myself, so I was able to read for 4 or 5 hours before coming home and doing some work around the house and limping off to the 10pm mass.

One sadder note: since my last email, I received word that Br. Hubert Bonnette died. Br. Hubert returned to the Brothers just a few years ago after having been out of the community for several decades, and while we were only in the community together for a few years, and I didn’t get much of a chance to know him well, I knew from the first time I met him that he was the real deal: wise, humble, a real Brother’s Brother. He had that same kind of simple, honest centeredness that I saw in someone like Br. Pierre, another old hero of mine, and that has drawn me to the Brothers from my earliest days in the community. I wish I had gotten to know him better, but I am so glad for the time I was able to spend getting to know him, and that he was able to spend his last years back with his Brothers.

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