That day was a fairly normal work day; I was pretty wiped out still from the Nature Retreat, but I had meetings and stuff to be at. That evening during the community night for the Micah Program (a service-learning community with which I work) a couple of the older students came and "serenaded" me with a birthday song. Throughout the day people were coming by or leaving notes on Facebook, and a couple of people brought food, so by the end of the day my office smelled like a bakery. My friend Laura and one of the campus ministry student workers conspired to print a shirt for me (picture to follow) with "BP" on the front and "Destructo" on the back. (*Long story short -- the Brothers in my community don't change our names anymore when we take vows, but we used to up until Vatican II, and when I was a novice, I jokingly said I wanted to take the name "Destructo" as a religious name. Somehow, it followed me up here.*) I also heard from a lot of friends and Brothers throughout the day. Laura's boyfriend John found a shirt made by Schlafly's (a local brewery in StL) that had the quote, "Bier trinkt man nicht nur zum Frühstück" -- loosely translated, "Beer: it's not just for breakfast." Gee, am I that transparent?
Thursday evening I met a friend who works at a local PBS affiliate, and we watched a documentary sponsored by PBS on the Miss Navajo Nation pageant. That pageant takes place about 5 minutes from where I used to live, and it brought back a lot of memories, good and bad. Part of the pageant involves the contestants butchering a sheep -- somehow I can't picture them introducing that into the Miss America pageant...With all this monasticism stuff, and the sacred landscapes class, the desert has been calling my name for a while, so I hope to get out to AZ this winter or spring to go get lost for a while.
The parents were here this weekend, in fact just left a few hours ago, and we ran around all day yesterday. We spent most of the afternoon in the Botanical Garden -- how had I never been there before?! -- and it was just marvelous. The pond in the Japanese Garden has the biggest carp I have ever seen, and they have a little dispenser for fish food, so we fed these monsters, and they had a mini-feeding frenzy over the little pellets we were tossing them. My mom's watch dropped in the pond while she was feeding them, so we joked that some fish is going to be swimming around ticking like the crocodile in Peter Pan. I found about a hundred little hiding places I could go spend an afternoon meditating or reading. I would go next weekend, but I'll be in Kentucky at a conference on Thomas Merton's poetry, followed by a visit to Gethsemani for a couple of days. I hope I am allowed to go looking around for Merton's hermitage while I am there, but at least I can see the abbey and the cemetery. Hopefully the brunt of the cold weather stays away long enough for me to get in an afternoon or so at the Garden when I get back. I am in the planning stage of bringing the students from my class up to Gethsemani at the end of the semester to see the place, and I plan to give them a couple of hours of quiet to explore and hide and soak in the spirit of the place.
All for now. Mercy within mercy within mercy...