Tuesday 1st. Calendars were distributed in Chapter, after we exchanged New Year’s greetings. As you go around the room, and encounter such a nice variety of people, we seem more than seven. A quiet and dramatic and solemn and relaxed day.
Wednesday 2nd. The geothermal pipes sprung another small leak. Late at night, our friend Father Patrick Ngwenya arrived from Zimbabwe for a week’s visit. Patrick is secretary of the Archbishop of Harare.
Thursday 3rd. Suddenly, there we were at the Sisters for lunch, which was nice. These outings are also about the only time of the year we stand together with them in choir and chant the Psalms. Some incense was burning. Next we moved down their neat corridor, with colorful tiles of yesteryear, into their refectory. Their refectory is above ground, ours in our basement, with high windows. As we ate and talked, laughter was not infrequent. Conversation topics at the corner I was sitting at included Liberace, and death, and age of first experiencing being called to religious life: 13, for the Sister I was talking with.
Friday 4th. We have our own gas station, diesel and regular, but the supplier has not been by, we’re empty and go to town.
Saturday 5th. In the woods far behind the monastery, cut wood lays in impressively neat piles, some of them quite high. Once-densely-packed sections of the forest which have gone through selective cutting, look the better for having gotten a trim.
Sunday 6th. There were some people at mass for Sunday, not a lot. It is as though life is just beginning to stir again after the holidays.
Monday 7th. The monks continue to receive the odd Christmas card from Auld Acquaintance. The three-story chicken barn is being prepared for the next flock. Last week’s chronicle, with its mention of Liberace, has elicited some unexpected responses. I guess that, like Elvis after him, Liberace meant very different things to different people.
Tuesday 8th. Dom Bede celebrated his birthday today, with a four layer cake. Brother Leo made his way to the Miramichi for some tests. When it was time to go, a man older still than Leo, who was talking with him for the first time, did not want to end the conversation so we could go. He told me: “All my life! I’ve relished talking to Priests: you can ask them anything, they are frank, they will tell you what they think.”
Wednesday 9th. Brother Stephan picked up a rental truck as we wait for insurance to come through for the one written off through no fault of our own. He had to choose between a Dodge and a Chevrolet, and chose Dodge.
Thursday 10th. Snow is affecting, when the snow is as bountiful as it has been this week. Today in Dieppe, Brother Henry got out to see a cardiologist for a check-up, and on the way out of the Dumont hospital we saw there had been an accident; people hoping to careen through life and up off-ramps. Amid real health challenges, Henry is patient, open-minded; interested in how people are doing.
Friday 11th. Brother Leo is reporting dreams, not bad, not good, but incomprehensible. Today was the funeral of Eloi, a brother of our late Father Adrien Bordage. It was in Acadieville, a short ways east of here. Eloi was, among his other gifts, a particularly good grand-dad, with always something to do, a story to tell, a game to play; the written tribute to him listed off games they would play, including “kick the can”; I’ve never seen adult grand-children so grieved and so obviously thankful. An impressive stranger came up to me after the funeral and expressed thanks for the recent French translations of the chronicle, which he never misses.
Saturday 12th. The fox crossed the lake this morning. The fox is an animal I like to see, but as happens when creatures cross the winter lake, he looked a little hard done by.
Sunday 13th. Just before Eucharistic adoration after Vespers, a wisp of candle smoke was made vivid near the ceiling, by the powerful light directly over the altar, which bulb we had to get from Asia. At lunch, we listened to Gustav Leonhardt on You Tube. He plays so well, as though he were setting the world to rights. Bede didn’t fare so badly himself with his homily this morning. I remembered how our procurator general would smile to hear Bede preach, when he was here; a revealing, and mysterious smile.