Fridays seem to getting a reputation for being adventure days at St. Anthony’s. Last week was the power outage with a (COVID-sized) houseful of guests coming for the weekend. This weekend we were only expecting six guests, but the weekend was just as adventurous.

With four of our guests arriving Friday morning, Kim was here to prepare lunch. As she was cleaning up after lunch, she heard a crash in the hallway. She thought someone dropped their dishes and went out to help. Kim did not find any broken dishes, but there was broken glass, along with the scene of some apparently nefarious act.

Do you remember playing the board game “Clue”? Basically, the players are tasked with gathering clues to determine WhoDunIt, where and with what. The first one to figure out all the clues and come up with the correct answers wins.

Well, in our little version of Clue, Kim quickly figured out the where – in the Courtyard. The crash she heard was a pane of glass in the outside door of Mary’s Courtyard. About half of the pane was lying between the doors; the glass that remained in the door had a starburst crack from top to bottom and from the center to the side. Based on the red spots in the snow and the feathers scattered around them, the victim appeared to be avian, but the victim was not found at the scene. This led us to believe the culprit was avian as well. Our best guess was predator and prey, each in their own way struggling to survive, flew into the glass and shattered it. However, the parties remained unidentified.

Our adventures were not finished, though. As dusk settled in around the Center, Marge and Jackie were sitting in an office up front when Marge noticed another winged friend make several passes in the front hall. This guest was no mystery, however. After Jackie left, the uninvited guest returned to make several more passes in the hall, but Marge had no luck in coaxing him into the net kept in the front office for this purpose. Apparently, this particular guest also made an appearance in the dining room as some of our human guests were enjoying their supper. They, too, tried to coax this guest to exit through the window they opened. Despite using the window screen to try and redirect their new friend, he wanted nothing of it. He was smart enough to know it was warmer inside than outside, yet not smart enough to head south for the winter like the rest of his relatives. The trio of human guests finally realized the futility of their efforts and gave up.

On Saturday, Marge was speaking to another guest who was asking about something she had seen the prior night. Marge confirmed for her that she was not hallucinating, that we did indeed have a flying guest in the house Friday night, and that he was likely still here somewhere, resting during the day and trying to avoid exile at night.  As Marge and the guest walked down the east hall talking, Marge spotted the apparent victim from Friday’s incident lying on the steps of the small courtyard on the east side of the chapel.  When JustBob took care of the remains on Monday, he determined the victim was a pigeon. The suspect is a peregrine falcon that has been spotted on the grounds several times.

With acres of woods around St. Anthony’s, and the variety of species of our brothers and sisters in the family of creation, we are well aware that our family includes both predators and prey. We make an effort to care for our brothers and sisters whenever we can, including safely catching and releasing those that inadvertently find their way inside our walls. But we are equally aware of the reality of life and death for all of creation, and that we have little control over the when and where of those realities. If we praise the Creator when we witness signs of new life – a nest of cardinal eggs in the Courtyard, a newborn fawn discovered by the gazebo, the mother fox and her young kits, Mama Doe and her twins, or the flock of young turkeys learning to use their wings – should we not also praise the Creator when the circle of life reaches completion?

For the blessings of the circle of life, and the daily reminders to appreciate the fragility of life and inevitability of death, we say Deo Gratias!