My favorite monk is Thomas Merton, and my top Merton book is “The Sign of Jonas.” He is one of the most honest, ecstatic and probing spiritual writers I know…reading him is like talking with a dear friend.  I owe him a huge debt.  (photo by John Howard Griffin)

Halfway through my knit, C. approached in a sage green cardigan, her hands filled with a travel mug of tea, and a dunker wrapped in a napkin.  “Top of the morning to you!” she said.  “Here’s something to take the edge off…”  It was a cold, rainy day and the bench was wet and shiney.  I gushed gratitude from inside my stiff yellow raincoat.  “Don’t thank me–it was all D.’s idea but he couldn’t find his shoes…”  She told me she has The Boys in the Hoods praying for our sick neighbor, and that the prayers are working.  That’s the nickname I coined for our Trappist friends down at Guadalupe Monastery in Oregon.  I asked her if she and D. still had plans to go on retreat there this October.  She said it was on the back burner.  I told her I might still be interested in going, though I have mixed feelings.  She reminded me that you have to hold on to the activities and interests that nourish you.  “Tend your garden,” I mused.  I told her I used to think I was a full-blown monastic, but now I’ve realized that I have a little “monkette” inside me. [Existing alongside  plenty of other archetypes: artist, lover, clown.]  She said, “I think everyone has a monk or monkette inside them…but not everyone wants to acknowledge it.”  I nodded in agreement, “Yes the capacity for solitude…”

“My spiritual director used to say at the monastery that your capacity for solitude and your capacity for relationship spring from one and the same place,” I said.  “You have to accept  yourself in order to love another person.  And to accept yourself, you have to face yourself, and to face yourself, you have to enter your solitude, and to enter your solitude you must face your deepest wounds.  Your solitude is a wild and scary place, but also one of great healing, the wilderness where you encounter God…And that’s your meditation for the day,” I concluded sheepishly.  I can be such a pompous windbag sometimes…

C. just smiled.  Bemused tolerance.  I love her so.

I finished my knit under a grey sky soft as angora wool.


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