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

23 May 2010

Start spreadin' the news

I've been a typical tourist in the Big Apple for the past few days. A friend of mine is here for the first time so I took her to the Empire State Building, Times Square, the UN, the Statue of Liberty, etc., etc. he spent all of Saturday shopping with another friend (who is now also my friend now for having spared me that task!) so I used the opportunity to visit the Frick Collection. I had heard enthusiastic descriptions of it from two of my Italian friends—it is pretty rare to hear Italians praising an American art museum. Their enthusiasm, however, was well-deserved. The collection has some magnificent pieces from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century, and I was astonished to see the originals of several very famous paintings—Hans Holbein's portraits of Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell, and El Greco's "St Jerome", to name a few. At some point during my visit, the true significance of the collection struck me: this wasn't like a national gallery. At one time, this collection belonged to a single person!

The collection is well worth seeing the next time you are in New York. The building housing the collection is interesting in itself, having been the home of the Frick family. It is a fine example of a wealthy family home in the guilded age. The museum is located right next to Central Park, which is an added bonus. Go!


13 May 2010

Air Frere

By pure coincidence, I have reached a milestone, of sorts, today. Upon landing in Burbank today, I have flown 477,721 miles (768,817 km) since being elected to my present position in the Order. That is 10 miles (or 17 km) more than the distance from the earth to the moon and back (using the average distance between the earth and the moon).

How do I know this? Because I keep a record of all my flights, which you can check for yourself here. Want more fun facts? Of course you do! I have:
  • flown enough miles to circle the earth over 19 times
  • flown .005 of the distance to the sun
  • spent over 1000 hours inside planes
  • been in 31 countries
  • spent time in 103 different airports
  • flown on 51 different kinds of aircraft
If nothing else, I can say that I have gathered no moss in the last three and a half years.

12 May 2010

Another candle on the cake

Today is my birthday. I arrived into this world fifty-three years ago. How time flies! Soon, I will reach maturity, I am told. To celebrate this momentous occasion, I flew from Tucson to Phoenix this morning. Currently, I am sitting in the Phoenix airport awaiting my onward flight to Burbank, California. Oh, the glamour! The airport is not the most conducive place in the world for taking stock of one's life, but it will have to do.

I was never one for setting goals for myself so there isn't any benchmark against which I can measure myself. By the most common measures of success—money, possessions, a position of authority or influence, a happy family—I am a dismal failure. I have never been married, have no children and no possessions. Within the religious order to which I belong I have reached a position that some might consider influential, but it is vicarious influence. I have no real authority of my own. According to the current laws of the Church, the fact that I am not a priest means that I cannot go any higher within the structure the Order. In other words, I have peaked. Scary.

I suppose that "success" for a religious brother must be measured in the number of lives he has touched, the number of people he has helped and in the holiness of his life. If anyone figures out how to measure those things, let me know. On the holiness score, all I can say is: Give me a little more time, Lord!