Leaves out the back window were waving crimson and gold. Beside me on the sofa rested work to accomplish and a fascinating book (Fr. Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works). My laptop topped a lap desk (on my lap).
My dear Timothy built a fire in the woodstove. This man who enkindles my flames is by nature a sustainer, as well as being a chronicler (just check out his photos on FB of, alternately, the service for the feast of the Conception of St. John the Baptist at church and the progress of our bathroom floor replacement at home).
After Tim left for work, our resident musician emerged from his room to greet elderly Westley. These past months, the musician and our cat have become best buddies. They bonded in July, the week my dear sustainer and I were away at family camp (which, alas, could not be chronicled fully, due to a cell phone's escape over a cliff during an afternoon hike). Westley, who looks like Garfield, received the nickname Pooky, in honor of Garfield's toy teddy bear.
Now each morning the musician calls, "Hey, Pook!" and with his foot rubs the rickety feline's spine. In that moment it's possible both of them purr.
That's how it was for me this past week. Things fairly purring along, in life, in the prayers (Lord, sprinkle into my heart the dew of Thy grace).
Then Thursday, as usual, I was at the church bookstore, working (and reading) and meeting interesting people. St. John sits smack in the middle of The Whit, the colorful neighborhood my dad was born and raised in. Many unpredictable types come through our doors. Often I love their company. Sometimes one or another of us hanging around can help them.
Soon after I closed up the shop, a phonecall gave me unbelievable news: our priest had been arrested on criminal charges.
I was stunned. Immediately I knew it had to have been for trying to help one of the interesting people. So many ways things can go wrong...so large a heart this man has for others...and he can be a little blind to possible dangers when dealing with some of them.
While I am not a knower of all truth, I knew not one reason to suspect my priest of his charges. There are people, sure, who lead lives in which those closest to them are deceived regarding their shady activity, until something comes out, until accusations are made. In those cases, the friends who've been deceived start thinking and recognize clues they were missing or ignoring. With this man, my friend and pastor, there is simply nothing like that. A precise word to describe his everyday behavior is "chaste." He is not, by any means, perfect, but he is chaste.
Knowing our priest and being where I was, my next move was clear. Entering the nave, I lit candles. Fumbling among prayer booklets, I found one with an extended prayer to God in times of trouble. In the silence (which is never ruffled by such news as had been delivered) I prayed softly, waiting for others to join me. Later the bells outside would ring, as always their sound joyous, pealing against a downpour's beginning, against the very dark and the unordinary.