Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, April 3, 2008
How beautiful the leaves grow old.
How full of light and color are their last days.
- John Burroughs, naturalist, writer, born on
this day, 1837.
I had a lot of “trouble” as a novice when I was a monk in the Order of the Holy Cross. I had a headache for months! That finally resolved itself when I just “gave up” to God and said, “You decide what the hell I’m supposed to do”. But before that, I would get all my work done by lunchtime. Then I would walk to Slabsides. (Though once I came across a stopped freight train, climbed on, and went down to the Poughkeepsie Bridge before I could get off – or wanted to! I think I was late for Vespers.
“Slabsides” was/is John Burroughs cabin in West Park. He was born in Roxbury NY, in the Catskills. He bought a small farm in Esopus, where the motherhouse of the Order of the Holy Cross is. But in his cabin, he wrote. It is there today, with much of the furnishings in it. I would walk there. I could see inside, but it was always locked - and I remember being surprised that it hadn’t been vandalized. It was a peaceful place.
Near it was a small pond. I would often strip down and swim - worried about a large snapping turtle I had seen - and then lie on the warm rocks. It reminded me of Montfort, in the Laurentian Mountains, where my grandmother had a wonderful little cottage and where my brother and I spent our childhood summers. I would look up at the sun through the yellow and gold and red autumn leaves and think how beautiful they were, “full of light and colour are their last days”.
Many people in our World don’t have the opportunity, given the enormous poverty of much of the World. I know that I have been enormously privileged, by sheer circumstance. It is my hope to grow old beautifully. To be filled with light and colour. To me, God dwells at the core – of us all, Light and Colour, Peace and Compassion.
I will do my best to allow the light and colour of a gracious loving God to radiate from me. To grow old beautifully. Perhaps to encourage others.