Note: The photo is not of the eclipse but of the moon a couple of days before the cosmic event.
I like sunrises at the retreat center. These days, the sun rises after 0600. Friday, I got outside at 0500 and found just a sliver of moon and the morning star and not a hint of sunrise. The day before the sliver of moon was above the morning star. I thought that was interesting. The morning star sticks to its spot there above Illinois. Mr. Moon, he’s all over the place. I was thinking about Mr. Moon being free to roam around like he does and about Mr. Morning Star being stuck in one place. I wondered which one was the most serene.
Then I thought my own serenity would be improved considerably if the serving wenches put coffee out at 0500 rather than 0530, by which time, Pilgrims, we’ve burned a lot of daylight, which is true even though there isn’t any. Something down the slope moved. One, no two, wispy, whitish-in a gray sort of way-shapes. Ghosts! I think. Ghosts of serving women past come to capture my soul and drag it down to hell for calling them wenches, like I was some kind of lord or something. You ghosts ain’t getting’ me without a fight! I thought that at them with my teeth clenched in determination. Then I cocked my head a bit. At night, the center of eyeballs don’t see as well as the periphery. I learned that when I was in flight training. Anyway, then I see it is not ghosts. It’s two small white tails.
Some scholars think Neanderthals had the ability to transfer thoughts. And that’s how they got sloped foreheads. One Neanderthal would transfer a thought to another, and the second one would think, Now why didn’t I think of that? And he’d smack himself on the forehead. Anyway, those two deer transferred thoughts into my vestigial Neanderthal thought transference capability. One said, “What the crap are you doing up so early?” The other said, “Everybody knows they don’t have the coffee out until 0530.” Then those two teen-aged deer swished their saucy, sassy white tails at me and sauntered off into the brush. I sent I bet you guys would taste good as Bambi-burghers, after them. They weren’t impressed.
I heard a noise behind me. A woman was putting the coffee into the dispensing machine. 0525. Early. Thank you.
They serve wimpy coffee, but it’s coffee and it smells heavenly. With a sip, I saw that woman as a little bit of Jesus with a towel wrapped around His waist at Holy Thursday dinner and He’s washing the apostle’s feet. Even Judas’s.
Friday, it turned out, was a good day at the retreat, but the evening was best. In the evening, after blessed kitchen crew serves us dinner, retreatants can spend an hour conversating if they want to. Me, normally I don’t. Normally I get the crap out of there before anyone talks to me or loads me down with Neanderthal transference of thoughts. But Friday night, one of the guys from my parish captured me. Oh poop! was my thought.
What he wanted to tell me was his wife had noticed me walking into and out of church, and she thought I was in a lot of pain. Mrs. His Wife has been praying for me. Oh poop!
I don’t know if this happens to you, but this is what happens to me. I am trucking through life. Sometimes life sucks a little, sometimes a lot. But you know, you’re coping, getting along. Then, Blamo! Something extraordinarily nice ambushes you. It’s like a hand reaches in to my chest and squeezes my heart, and some of my heart winds up in my throat and its big as a grapefruit and hard as a green one. Next thing, unless I do something, I will be leaking water out of my eyes and snot out of my nose. I started talking and explained about long leg and short leg and muscles screwed up by standing on the side of a mountain. Then I told him to tell Mrs. His Wife I really wasn’t in a lot of pain. Most of the time. And even if I was, I am mild-mannered and of even disposition, and it wouldn’t affect me. But to tell her that I was touched by her concern and to thank her for the prayers.
Then I got the crap away from him and went to my room and blew my nose, numerous times.
I knew if I asked Mrs. His Wife, she’d go in to church and genuflect once for herself and once for me, and I might still make it to heaven with her help.
Then God spoke to me at my little desk in my little room in the retreat house. “My son, the least of your worries is genuflecting properly.”
“Oh,” I said.
I will confess, the last thought meandering in my brain that night before I fell off the world and into sleep was: If people keep doing good stuff for me, and I accept it, am I going to lose my “Member in good status” card with the curmudgeonly old poop society?
They haven’t come to take it away yet.