Pompeii wall art by Kathy.
Yesterday, David and I had tea and cake with Kathy and Benedictine brothers Dunsten and Isaiah. Sue from next door, a fingerprint expert with Homeland Defense, was also there. The conversation was wide and far-ranging. Kathy and Isaiah are both artists, so much of the conversation between them evolved around art. Both of them craft items for sale at the Abbey.
Isaiah, a newly minted monk was getting used to his new way of life and habit, which he called a ‘skirt.’ He tried to straddle a chair as he might have done in his pre-monk days and nearly fell on the floor. He went outside to smoke and returned smelling like a chimney. When we were leaving, he winked at me. Yes, he’s a doll.
Isaiah said he was trying to decipher a verse he had translated which suggested prayer should be like the ‘silence of music.’ He asked if anyone knew what that meant. Kathy ventured perhaps it was something like the “music of the spheres.”
Because I know something about this topic, having read a disappointing book, The Music of the Spheres, which is about astronomy at the beginning of the Renaissance in France, and I read histories about the discoveries of Kepler, Copernicus and others in my history of science classes, I chimed in.
These early star-gazers were trying to talk to God through his creation, much like the star-gazers before them in Egypt, and elsewhere (Lord of Eternity: Divine Order and the Great Pyramid, by Richard Ford).
Mentioning outer space elicited a discussion of alien visitors from Sue who swears she saw a UFO one evening when she was returning home from work, and David who worked with the Department of Defense on missile technology and thinks the Air Force has some secrets.
Whereas some believe the book of Ezekiel is about a horrible tyrant who ruled Babylon, and carried off the Israelites into captivity, David, who reads about alien invasions, thinks this book in the old Testament depicts an invasion by space aliens. I think David should stop watching the History channel.
Somehow, probably because Kathy’s dog began barking at John, the carpenter, working next door, we got onto the topic of animals. I mentioned that PBS is doing a special on parrots Wednesday night. I told Kathy, I think, based on the advertising trailer, the information in the program may be misleading. I will watch it to find out, but it looks as if it might be a piece of propaganda put out by PETA or some other organization using anecdotal information.
A year or so ago, the House of Representatives member from Guam (which is infested with alien brown snakes) attempted to get a bill passed that would have banned all alien species from entering the US. While on its face, the bill seemed innocuous, it was not. Like most omnibus bills begun with good intentions, this bill had far reaching implications for unintended consequences and thoughtful members voted it down.
I won’t go into the specifics, but think of the Prohibition Act, whose consequences are with us today, even though it was repealed (Marijuana was legal before the Act was passed…if we are to believe Woody Harrelson). And, the current health law is a good example of good intentions run amuck.
Eventually, the party broke up, not because we ran out of topics to discuss, but because the brothers had to return to the Abbey for Evening Vespers.