Thank you Peter for this heartfelt memorial
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Peter Montgomery 
  To: [log in to unmask] 
  Sent: Sunday, September 17, 2006 11:28 AM
  Subject: Fw: Oh dark, dark, dark.

  Abbot Francis Kline died on August 27 after a long illness. A private
  funeral Mass for him was celebrated by his community and family on
  Wednesday, Aug. 30 in the small Abbey Church. Dom Damien Thompson of
  Gethsemani Abbey, Bardstown, Kentucky, presided. The homily was delivered by
  Dom Peter McCarthy of Guadalupe Abbey, Lafayette, Oregon and President of
  the US Region.

  Oh dark, dark, dark.
  They all go into the dark.
  The vacant interstellar spaces - the vacant into the vacant.
  The captains, merchants, bankers, eminent men of letters
  All go into the dark.And we all go with them
  Into the silent funeral.
  I said to my soul, "Be still
  and let the dark come upon you
  which shall be the Darkness of God."

  My friends, the words are T.S. Eliot's but the experience is each our own-to
  come together here-you and I-around the spent and broken body of our son,
  brother, friend, father, Abbot Francis. It is wrenching-death-it is soul
  numbing-it is so deep and vast it stretches the mind out into cavernous
  darkness-and it breaks the human heart. And yet-this morning, among us, his
  family and brothers and friends-this morning-death itself is the Word of God
  written in human flesh-the flesh of our beloved Francis.

  It is a loving and mysterious God decisively taking the pen from Francis's
  hand and finishing his life story. Death is the joining-the wedding-of the
  Word of God with Francis's completed earthly life.

  And of all the Gospel choices for a funeral liturgy-if you hold up this
  particular Gospel passage and place Francis's life next to it, you have two
  prongs of a tuning fork. They literally resonate off one another-they sing

  At that time Jesus said, "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and
  earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the
  learned, you have revealed them to mere children." Matthew 11:25-27.

  Now, Francis was learned. I think he was brilliant (but I may be prejudiced)
  and yes, he could be wise.when he wasn't being exasperating and impossible
  to understand! Which brings me to the point-Francis was the most child-like
  person I've ever known and, if we leave that central fact, we lose him and
  we can't do this lectio together around his body. We'll never understand.

  Isn't it St. Bernard who wrote, "The human h! eart is born old and meant to
  grow ever younger"?

  Francis's heart grew ever younger. His was the heart of a child and because
  of that he was an artist. You see, the artist is born of the child in each
  one of us-Francis taught me that.

  For although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you
  have revealed them to mere children.

  We always lived our monastic lives in different communities. (This was
  probably providential!) So you might say that our friendship was something
  of a road trip, if not a road show, traveling around Novice Directors'
  Meetings, Regional Meetings, and later, General Chapters. And there are so
  very many wonderful and very funny stories. I was embarrassed to discover in
  the last two days that most of you know many of them! So let me just share
  an image from the Sufi tradition. It goes like this:

  God and I?
  That's simple.
  We are like two big people in a very tiny boat
  who are continually, unexpectedly bumping into each other
  and giggling.

  Now, just add a third big person and you have the experience of our road

  Francis taught me what friendship is. It is looking out together at a world
  far more beautiful, and funny, and sad, and tender, and fierce, and radiant,
  and larger, and deeper than I ever suspected. He awakened the child in
  me-perhaps to some extent he awakened the child in all of us?

  Yesterday morning I received an email from a loving friend and mentor of
  Francis over many years. Abbot Timothy Kelly could not be here this morning,
  but I want his words to be part of mine:

  There is just this great sense of loss which almost translates into a sense
  of a loss of direction. In the midst of his bleakness that could be rather
  strong sometimes and did make me wonder if he did not have some Irish in
  him, Francis always had a hope that was enviable. Then his artistic sense of
  beauty and proportion which was a burden also gave to life something of that
  dimension of the Eternal. His passing is a real loss and to be selfish a
  loss to me. May he remain in our midst to encourage us and make us laugh.

  The Cistercian Fathers speak of the soul as a mirror--speculum-a lovely and
  radiant image. Well, Francis had this huge soul-mirror inside him which
  could make him at times very awkward, and frustrated, and frustrating! I
  have never before or since ever experienced anyone who could register near
  cosmic boredom in every facial feature no matter how sensitive the occasion
  might be-this could include Regional Meetings and General Chapters! If he
  couldn't find light-beauty, there was hell to pay! And yet.and yet.and this
  is where the child comes in.he could find light-beauty in the most
  surprising places! Francis could find light-beauty even in the Valley of the
  Shadow of Death. I will never forget that unexpected phone call from the
  floor of the day clinic at Sloan-Kettering when he suddenly announced he was
  ending his treatments, and he was coming home to Mepkin to be here with the
  brothers he loved. His voice was so child-like and it was as if he was
  surrounded by light-beauty. That evening when I was attempting to reason
  with him in a more "mature" way, I heard, "Peter, this will be difficult for
  me to say and painful for you to hear, but there is something so utterly
  beautiful in all of this-in each moment of all of this."

  It was another child of the Word, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, reflecting
  on death, who wrote:

  The body is not a prison but an opportunity. We must distinguish between
  being human and human being. We are born human beings. What we must acquire
  is being human. Being human is the essential-the decisive-achievement of a
  human being."

  The Hebrew Scriptures speak of the death and the burial of a person as that
  person being "drawn together to his people." We are his people and here we
  are. Francis has called us to the sharp edge of a deep and painful
  mystery--his broken and surrendered body--lying here at the altar of the
  Eucharist. He draws us to the Light. He draws us together to the Beauty of
  this Eucharist of the Resurrection this morning. And he meets us here
  again-where he will always meet us-here again. And our shared lectio ends
  here. Understanding, perhaps more deeply, those words of the first letter of
  John, "See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the
  children of God.

  "Yet so we are."

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