(a poetic look at a legend about one of Scholastica’s final days)
Gospel reading for the feast of Scholastica, February 10, 2023: Matthew 6:5-8
Benedict sipped his tea and looked out the window.
“I believe I miss her most this time of year,” he mused,
“because it was around this time of the year
we had our annual get together.
“You knew we were twins, right?
So even though we’d both chosen the monastic life,
it still would not be right
to never get together.
After all, we’d been together
since before we’d been born.
We made sure we spent a day together
once a year.
“We’d had a day together
that was so like every other year
we got together.
Worshiping, praying, reading Scripture–
–but it was discussing all that, that was the best.
Sometimes, it was like we were of one mind…
…and other times, we’d debate and duel,
wrestle and wrangle with words, phrases, translations…
…but I’d always ponder our discussions
as I walked back to the monastery,
and to my cell
for days and weeks afterwards.
“Something was different this time, though.
She was insistent I didn’t leave
when the sun started getting low,
and it was time for me to end our visit.
“To be honest, I was annoyed at the time.
How would it look
if I spent a night outside the monastery
and broke my own rule
that I expected my monks to obey?
“She said nothing to me.
She simply closed her eyes
and put out her hands in supplication
The clouds began to rumble,
lightning began to flash,
and the heavens unloaded.
It was a downpour, I tell you!
“What did you do?” I shouted at her.
“She merely smiled at me–
–you know, the kind of smile
that only a sister can give
when she knows she has you
trapped in the corner.
Then she looked at me
with the most beatific look,
and said to me,
with a voice slick and literally dripping with victory–
“I asked you to stay and you would not listen;
So I asked God and he did listen.”
“And yeah, I stayed.
The rain didn’t stop,
and I knew it wasn’t going to,
and so I took a deep breath,
and we continued our conversation far into the night.
Little did I know
she would die three days later–
–she must have known her time was short–
and I would know it from a vision
I had in my cell.
“I suppose we’ve all had times
we’ve wondered if all those prayers we say
are ever heard
or if they’re simply empty words
that we hurl into an empty sky
to an empty god.
“My sister taught me
that yes, all those words
I direct towards God
and I no longer fear
that somehow I’ve wasted my life
in devotion to a mystery.
the words matter…
and they are heard.
brought me many gifts…
but she saved the best one for last.”
Maria Evans splits her week between being a pathologist and laboratory director in Kirksville, MO, and gratefully serving in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri , as Interim Priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Hannibal, MO.