Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Abbot

            Abbot Wigbert had been with Mother and Alfred for two days and the household had fallen into a new routine. Mother and Alfred were sitting out under the pergola in the back garden, and it was mid-afternoon.

            “I don’t quite know what I expected Mother,” said Alfred, “but it certainly wasn’t this fusion of solemnity and joy.”

“You know Alfred,” said Mother, “”I asked him how we should address him. He said, ‘Just call me Wiggy. Wiggy at home and Abbot Wigbert in the parish.

“Wiggy!” snorted Alfred, taking a sip of his Lapsang Souchong Tea. “Wiggy!”

“He prays four times a day,” said Mother, “and he has invited us to pray with him; Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline at night. It’s a bit much, but it really does add a sense of orderliness and peace to the day.”

“Mother,” said Alfred, “He also gets up to pray the Office of Vigil at sunrise.”

“I know,” said Mother, “he asked if I would lay out the makings for coffee in the morning so he could make himself a mug before Vigil.”

“A mug?” said Alfred. “I didn’t know we had any mugs.”

“A mug” replied Mother!

            Alfred took another sip of Lapsang Soochong, then asked, “Out of curiosity, Mother, what mug did you give him?”

            “The one that Jeremy left the last time that he and Winifred visited,” said Mother. “You know, the one that says ‘Hear no evil. See no evil. Speak no evil.”

            Alfred laughed, “You gave a Monk a mug with three Monkeys on it? What did he say?”

            Mother replied, “He actually said, ‘Monkey see. Monkey do.’ Then he added that “Hear no evil. See no evil. Speak no evil,” was sound advice for Monks as well as Monkeys, and probably wouldn’t do the rest of the Church any harm either.”

            “Wiggy is a remarkable man,” said Alfred. “It’s not just his sense of humor. I found him out in the garden yesterday afternoon pulling weeds. Do you know what he said Mother? He said, ‘It’s all about balance. If I have not worked I cannot pray, and if I have not prayed, I cannot work.’”

            “That would explain why he insisted on doing the dishes after breakfast,” said Mother. “He the easiest house guest I’ve ever had. He also asked if I would mind if he cooked us dinner on Friday. “I think he doesn’t eat meat on Friday. He says that he wants to cook us Grey Havens Fish Stew. It’s sounds delicious.”

            “Hmm,” said Alfred, looking at the recipe that Mother had handed him, “that looks like a wonderful way to fast.’

St. Benedict’s Instruction to Abbots: “He must show forethought and consideration in his orders, and whether the task he assigns concerns God or the world, he should be discerning and moderate, bearing in mind the discretion of holy Jacob, who said: If I drive my flocks too hard, they will all die in a single day (Gen 33:13). Therefore, drawing on this and other examples of discretion, the mother of virtues, he must so arrange everything that the strong have something to yearn for and the weak nothing to run from” [The Rule, Chapter 64].

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