What good is a monk?

This morning I miss Father James, gone now coming four years.

I visited three times a year for seven years—that’s 21 cups of tea, give or take. Not a long friendship. But despite hundreds of miles of distance, a friendship nonetheless.

Somehow, knowing he was planted there—bush-dwelling as he put it—kept the world from flying apart, and kept my own from a similar fate.


What good is a monk,
rising at three,
going to his kettle,
taking his cup, 
stirring his tea,
running his hands
over the dark
wood of his desk,
lifting his eyes
to the lamp,
opening his book,
rising to move
two steps away
to his chair,
dropping his head,
breathing one thought,
into his heart
until the dawn,
taking seeds
to a feeder,
watching birds flyFrJames&me
through birch to
his hermitage,
checking the sky,
making notes
on the weather
for thirty years,
greeting each
knowing well
the one thing.
And what good
is the prairie


  1. A pregnant question Stephen – what good is a monk? – waiting for delivery. Apart from rising at 03:00, which is a bit extreme, I find, upon self-examination that I do much of what this good-natured fellow does, though possibly less poetically, which perhaps is the point, or part of a point at least.

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