Soliloquy in an International Cloister

Watch your step as Brother Lawrence takes you inside the monastery walls of a five hundred year-old international order. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wish you had ignored your hormones and joined the monastery.

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Location: Rome, Italy

26 October 2017

Poetic musings

I love this statue, located on the grounds of La Casa in Scottsdale, Arizona. It brings to mind Robert Browning's "Soliloquy in a Spanish Cloister", which inspired the title of this blog. Part of that poem goes thus:

Saints forsooth while brown Dolores
sits outside the convent bank
with Sanchicha telling stories
washing tresses in the tank.

Blue-black, lustrous, thick as horse hairs
don't I see his dead eye glow
bright as 'twere a Barbary's corsair.
That is, if he'd let it show!

12 October 2015

My muse

must have taken up permanent residence in Ireland. I was there for two weeks, and heard two blogworthy stories.

One of the brothers is part of an organization that serves to help religious congregations of women work together to solve issues that are common to them all. The job allows him to hear about the various odd customs that became traditions in some of the congregations. In one congregation, he told me, the sisters were taught that whenever they met one another, they were to use the following cheerful greeting:
Sister A: Die we must, sister!
Sister B: And we know not the day nor the hour!

One of the brothers is famous for asking questions during meals. He is particularly delighted when there are visitors because it provides him with an endless source of new questions. However, he will happily grill the brothers he has known for decades, as well. On one occasion, while seated at table with a professor of philosophy and a professor of psychology, among other, he asked, "Which is more important, philosophy or psychology"?
Quick as a flash, the philosophy professor responded: "Don't answer that! A fool can ask more questions than a wise man can answer!"

18 June 2014

Brolo the grammarian

As I see it, the fact that English is not one's mother tongue does not excuse that person from speaking and writing correctly. This is in contrast to German, which is so devilishly convoluted and difficult that no one could possibly be expected to speak it correctly. Back to the subject at hand, however. On a recent Swiss Air flight, I noticed that the sandwich packaging had a grammatical mistake.

This is a case of the misuse of the transitive verb "Enjoy", which is altogether too common among those with a poor command of English. Although one is tempted to let the error slide, that does not help the person in the long run. I feel it is my duty, therefore, to explain to them that transitive verbs, such as "enjoy", require a direct object. That is, you must put a word or phrase after the verb. In this case, I helpfully supplied a corrected version that I hope will be used on future flights.

You're welcome.

20 November 2013

Physician, heal thyself

One of brothers, let us call him Brother Veneficus, has made a second career out of offering medical advice to the other brothers. He convinced two of them to join him in a strict, liquids-only diet for the whole of this week. To another brother, he prescribed a purgative of Epson salts (which, by the way, are called "English salts" in Italian), which backfired - quite literally - and kept the poor patient in bed for a day.

I predict he will bring out the leaches before too long.

30 October 2013

High Expectations

Brother Tandoor, who recently joined one of our American monasteries, wanted to get an American driving license. He passed the written test with flying colors. Then he took the driving test, going through the usual routine of parallel parking, merging into traffic, driving on residential streets, etc. Eventually the instructor said, "You've done very well. Now take me back to the office." On the way back, Brother Tandoor came up to a stop sign and, after checking both left and right for traffic, coasted through the intersection. Back at the office, the conversation went like this:
Instructor: "You failed."
Brother: "What? But you told me that I had done well!"
Instructor: "Yes, but then you went through that intersection without stopping."
Brother: "But you told me that the test was over!"