Sunday, November 22, 2020

A couple of quiet autumn weeks

The weather and the landscape have finally turned autumnal these last couple of weeks. Nearly all the leaves have drifted to the ground. Grey and brown are now more prominent in our views.

This past week, Brothers Robert James, our Superior, and Luc came back from their three-week visit to our house in Santa Barbara. They helped gather and pack those belongings that are now being moved to West Park. They also helped prepare those items that are donated to various religious and not-for-profit organizations. They are now in quarantine for a couple of weeks. Br. Luc preached for the feast of Christ the King. You can hear him and/or read him on our Sermons Blog.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I spent most of my time providing spiritual direction to students and faculty at New York's General Theological Seminary (via Zoom). I am reassured that I can satisfactorily start new direction relationships on the Zoom platform. I'd still prefer to see people on campus but on-line spiritual direction will have to do for a while longer. Br. Robert Leo is seeing folks at Yale Divinity School in the same way.

I find myself checking out more ships that anchor by our monastery on the Hudson. There are a number of ship tracking websites. You can get free access to some information (the detailed stuff requires a paying subscription). Most of the ships that come by us are New York harbor barges pushed by their tugboat or bulker carrier ships that can come from anywhere on the planet. Leisure traffic on the river has essentially discontinued by now although the Rip Van Winkle tour boat sailing out of Kingston still comes around at weekends.

The Middle House roof renovation work is continuing to progress. The hope is that it can be completed before the winter weather is upon us. Expoloratory work continues with an aim to alleviate the water infiltrations in our belltower. One of three lines of investigation is how water that seeps into our church basement saturates the belltower wall with water by upwards capillarity. We are moving towards having fully-informed quotes on all three aspects of work (basement, tower inside, tower outside).

Now that the brothers do our own cleaning work, Saturdays see a lot of going and coming with pails, mops and brooms. We each have our assigned areas to clean. I've gotten more effective at my cleaning duties and actually enjoy the manual labor it provides me for a change.

From top left, clockwise: Scaffolding to access the Middle House roof under renovation; various bulk carrier at anchor between the monastery and the Vanderbilt estate (seen as they turn on their anchor when the tide changes direction); Br. Josép cleaning the West Atrium in the enclosure under the watchful supervision of  Br. Robert Hagler ;-)

Stay safe, stay healthy, wear a mask, save lives!


Sunday, November 8, 2020

An election week

Brothers Robert James and Luc are still at Mount Calvary Monastery in Santa Barbara, CA, helping with the coming move of many things to West Park.

On Tuesday, we celebrated All Souls (transferred because of our Monday Sabbath). Oh, and many of us voted that day. Some of us had voted by mail or in early voting sessions. Most of us tried to maintain our sanity by not gluing ourselves to screens for the rest of the week.

On Wednesday, I gave an especial thanks for my monastic vocation, on the eleventh anniversary of my Life Profession of the Benedictine Vow. Actually, I thank Jesus for it every morning when awaking and every night before turning off the lights. That and for the wonder of being human in this universe.

All through the week, I kept getting anxious and or funny text messages from my family in Belgium who was not so successful at independence from screens. America put on the best thriller for the world this week...

I must admit I feel great relief at the outcome of the presidential election. The result felt like a release from great anxiety. There remains daunting challenges for our country to be sure. I hope the new White House team can help bridge divides among Americans. May we all remember that we are One.

While America elected a president and vice-president, the Hudson River kept flowing in and out of its  estuary and our bell kept calling us to church. Meanwhile, many Americans and many world citizens with them watched as the results of the election came in (a Belgian television screeen capture from my family on Saturday).

May God bless the whole world with a pacified, cooperative and constructive America.


Sunday, November 1, 2020

California in two directions

 Our Brothers Will and Robert Leo came out of quarantine after coming back from California two weeks ago.

Our Brothers Robert James and Luc left for California on Tuesday. They will be with our Brothers in Santa Barrbara to help them with the move of many of our belongings to West Park. The movers are coming mid-November so lots of packing needs to happen in the meantime.

This week, I got to join in the bible study that Br. Josép organizes weekly for our alongsiders.

At home. From top, clockwise: Br. Will in his new home, with Br. John in the statio; alongsider Demarius Walker doing his seminary work at a desk in Pilgrim Hall; Demarius, intern Renée Fischer and Br. Josép in the Conference Room for bible study.

This weekend, Brothers Aidan, John, Josép and I helped Aidan's mom, Stephanie, to move to a lovely apartment in nearby Kingston. The move became possible because her job went on-line and so she no longer needed to be near her company's offices.

Aidan's mom's new neighborhood featured lots of Halloween decorations. Br. John got into the mood and did a pretty good impersonation of the green monster of the swamp with bubble wrap that came off the television screen.

From left, clockwise: the Green Monster of the Swamp (a.k.a Br. John) helping Br. Aidan's mom to move in to her new apartment; Br. Aidan surveying the scope of the moving work left to do; the flowers my brother and sister-in-law laid on my parents'tomb in Belgium for All Saints.

Br. Aidan, at the monastery, and Br. Robert Leo, online for St Stephen, Middlebury, VT, both preached great sermons for All Saints. I advise you to go and listen to it (or read it) on our Sermons Blog.

To all those who are going to or have already voted: Thank You for keeping our democracy lively.

Stay safe, stay healthy, wear a mask, save lives.