Sunday, April 5, 2009

Abbot Alban, Requiescat in Pace

Yesterday we buried Abbot Alban. He was 97 years old. He'd been the superior of this community for 30 years, from 1946 to 1975, when he retired. I didn't know him well, but I know he was loved and respected by the monks.

We sang and prayed and laid him to rest in the little monastery graveyard, on a bright Spring morning with such a whooshing wind in the tall cedars that we could not hear the Prior's speech over the grave, so each prayed in his heart for Abbot Alban's rest, and for his own soul to be safeguarded as the old monk's seemed to have been, until its journey home.

This favorite poem of Abbot Alban's (and of mine!), by John Donne, was printed on the program:
Holy Sonnet XIV
Batter my heart, three person'd God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend,
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee;'and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to'another due,
Labor to'admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely'I love you,'and would be loved faine,
But am bethroth'd unto your enemie;
Divorce mee,'untie, or breake that knot againe,
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you'enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.
Regina Terrae

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