20. May 2013 · Comments Off on Broken Magnet · Categories: N. Staying Alive

Lydwine has come back from a year’s grand tour of South Africa.  She is the president of the Grail in the United States.  She is coming to Superflumina to inspire us.

They ask me to memorize a passage from scriptures to add to the evening.  I choose the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians.  I already know it.   It has been my favorite since Mother Paulinus assigned it.

If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.  And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could move mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.  And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing.

I stand up to say my lines.  The staffers are gathered around Lydwine.  She looks at me expectantly.  I start to speak.  I choke on the words and nothing comes out.

After a few awkward moments of silence, Lydwine says you should have taken more time to learn this.

I remember what Mother Paulinus said about the magnet that pulls me forward.  My lifeline.   If you lose the connection to it, she said, it is your fault.

That night, I write a long letter to Lydwine, or maybe it was to any one of the powers that be.   After some convoluted stuff about art and the distractions of the world, I say that I want to enter a Carmelite convent.

The gist of it is you are not saintly enough for me.

No one acknowledges my letter, but the next day I am sent back to Grailville.

They are having a new theme emphasizing the arts.  I am back at St. Brigid’s helping Trina reproduce her statues.


Manger card



I design and silkscreen Christmas cards which they then print and sell at the bookstore.

Jeanne has taken over as my spiritual adviser.  She says nothing about my letter either.  She asks me to write down everything I am thinking.

I make a four page book of paintings illustrating this quote:

The world is so full of a number of things

I think we should all be happy as kings

I give it to Jeanne.  Years later she said that she liked it too much and Lydwine took it away from her.

Angela and I take a train to Boys Town in Nebraska.  At the station, she buys us soft ice cream cones.  We are going to a conference on liturgical music.


Boys Town copy


Father Vitry is teaching the course on conducting Gregorian Chant. Most of the participants are nuns or heads of college music departments.  Father Vitry does not leap around here, I do it for him.  I am serving as his demonstrator.  His classes are still the most fun.

There are lots of young men at the conference, not all of them priests.   Some are big shot composers.  Angela gives a folder of her music to two of them.  As she walks away, I hear one of them say, “Cute.”  He wasn’t talking about her music.

I think Angela is in turmoil.  In any case, I am told that I am taking her place as the Director of Music for the summer.  That is Grailville’s busiest time.  I will be in charge of the music which involves at least one Missa Cantata every day, prayer vigils and folk singing.


Lyrics booklet



They send me to Loveland to buy some skirts and blouses at the general store.  Instead, I go a few blocks away and blow the budget on a pair of shoes like the ones I used to wear.


DCwith dog

When I come back with the new shoes they say, what’s that?  They know the difference between these beautiful shoes and the ugly laced up hand-me-down clunkers I am wearing.  They don’t ask me to take the shoes back.

They find some decent skirts and blouses for me.  I guess they can’t have me facing the world looking like Little Orphan Annie except for my new shoes.


I think they are changing tactics because they want to keep me from asking when do you send me to the Carmelites?  But they say nothing.

At the end of summer, they send me to Gabriel House, their city center in Cincinnati.  There are no locked doors.  I can walk anywhere.  It is a shock.

As with Jonah, the whale has spit me out!




Chagall Epreuve


Epreuve d’Artiste, lithograph by Marc Chagall

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