There was a male cardinal near Exit 3 yesterday evening. He was gloriously bright and very bold; in fact, he was so bold as to swoop, chattering, right in front of my face on his way from the house to the magnolia tree planted last summer in Joanie Wilichowski’s memory. Joanie would no doubt have appreciated his visit. He rested for a while in the branches of Joanie’s tree, then flitted off to the nearby evergreen, where there may be, I suspect, a nest full of baby cardinals.

The magnolia is doing wonderfully well, as are the iris and the peonies and the tulips (mostly bloomed out by now) and all of the other lovely flowers that don’t require our intervention. With some exceptions involving the mowing of grass and the pruning of branches, Mother Nature has been in charge here since March. This accounts, no doubt, for the increased boldness of our furry and feathered brothers and sisters, who generally carry out the activities of their daily lives a little farther from the house and the humans who dwell within it! But in recent days, we’ve seen turkeys and deer walking the labyrinth, fawns napping near the swing on the northeast corner of the house, chipmunks scurrying around the downspouts, and songbirds camped out near the entryways of the house. I even saw a plump bumblebee bumbling his way across the screen on the outside of a window near Exit 6. It was wonderful to see Brother Pollinator looking so healthy and well. It’s all rather delightful!

It will be equally delightful when our human brothers and sisters once again come to visit! We’re starting slow – private retreatants are welcome at any time this summer, and small groups will begin returning to the house in July.

We’ve made some changes to ensure that our residents enjoy a sense shelter here in our home, once we re-open to guests. The glass door on the first floor that once divided the professors’ quarters from the students’ quarters will remain closed to provide a visible indicator of the border between those spaces of our home that are joyously open to all and those spaces of our home that are respectfully open only to those who make our home here permanently.

Another upcoming change in our community is less immediately visible than the demarcation created by the closure of the glass door in the first-floor hallway. Namely, I will end my residency here early in July. While I will no longer physically reside within the community here, the community here – and this sacred space itself – will ever reside within my heart.

In addition to changing my place of residence, I will, on the 1st of July, turn over the reigns of leadership to one whose talents are better suited than mine to shepherding St. Anthony’s safely through to the other side of the pandemic and the growth opportunities presented by it. Our current Development Director, Jackie Kellner, will step into the role of Interim Director on the first day of July in this year of Our Lord, 2020. Jackie and I have already had many wonderful conversations about my work / her work / our work as community!

I myself will return to the more familiar challenges of the classroom, shepherding high school students through the mysteries of acquiring not only the German language but also the writing and critical analysis skills needed to communicate effectively, thoughtfully, and compassionately in English.

As I write about these changes and opportunities for awakening, newness, and growth, Brother Wind is once again waving his way through the Sentinel Tree outside my window. Brother Wind has been an almost-constant visitor this spring and summer. Perhaps he has stopped by so often as a messenger of change.

Brother / Sister songbirds have been venturing ever closer to the house and its human occupants this spring and summer. Surely they have come ever closer and ever more often as messengers of hope and a sweet, lovely future.

Deo Gratias!