Thursday, August 04, 2016

Lunch With The Monks

Earlier this week I received a call from the monastery.  Two of my friends who are monks were going to be in Louisville and they wondered if I was available for lunch.  I always enjoy meeting them because I like them and the conversation is always stimulating.  I don’t have deep conversations as often as I would like.  Br. Frederic, who is in his early 90’s, has an inquisitive mind and a deep intellectual curiosity.  I can always expect some deep philosophical or theological question from him.  I am humbled that he likes to hear my view of things.  Way back in the early 1970’s, when I was a young man wanting to be a monk, Br. Frederic was one of the monks who interviewed me.  Forty four years later I am still being interviewed by Br. Frederic.  The other monk was Fr. Michael.  He is now the Prior of the monastery.  This means that when the abbot is away from the monastery, Fr. Michael is in charge.  When we were both a lot younger and stronger, we often worked in the monastery cow barn together feeding the large herd of Holstein cows the monastery owned at that time or we walked together with other monks in the hot, dusty fields picking up bales of hay which we heaved onto a wagon to be stored away in a barn for the winter.  In those days the milk from our cows was used to make the famous cheese the monks made and sold for many years.  Today at lunch I shared a story from my days in the monastery.  One of the older monks had found me reading “The Collected Works of St. John of The Cross”, a 16th century Spanish mystic and Carmelite priest.  Let me tell you that it’s pretty deep stuff.  The older monk looked at me and said, “Br. Dominic, you will learn more about God by working in the cow barn”.  I understand this a lot more now than I did then.  God and spirituality are found in the cow barns of life where things can get a little piled up and mucky.  Let’s just say that cows generate a lot more than milk.  I still value the time I lived in the monastery.  It has deeply affected my world view and approach to life and I am happy that I have not lost my connection to that experience.       

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