Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Collegium: Tuesday


Cannon Beach

Collegium: Tuesday June 12, 2007

I get up, shower, read, and walk. I am just waiting to call Cathi to see how Chloe is doing. The news is not good. She was in pain all night. I now go into “Procedure Mode”. I cannot be there to do what has to be done. So I tell Cathi to call the vet ahead of time so there is no waiting once they get there. I express my preference for someone to be with Chloe to the end but understand if they cannot do this. I request that Chloe be cremated and that we receive the ashes. I cannot believe we are having this conversation. I cannot believe I am not at home.

Cathi will call the vet. I hope I am wrong, that it is “not time”. I go to breakfast and tell a few people in my Small Group. However, today we are not in our Small Groups, we are having a retreat day. There were a number of retreats to pick from: Franciscan, Ignatian, Benedictine, Feminist and Centering Prayer. I had signed up for Centering Prayer.

After breakfast I call Cathi but there is no answer. We go to morning prayers and then off to our retreats. We are in a different chapel. It is small but nice. As we enter music is playing. Our leader Dennis McAuliffe teaches Italian Literature at Georgetown. He is also the Director of the Georgetown College Catholic Studies Program. However, for today what is important is his vast experience in Christian Meditative Prayer.

I find out we will not be learning Centering Prayer but rather Christian Meditative Prayer. The latter uses a mantra during the entire meditative session. This will prove to be useful.

We have a break, I call Cathi and she tells me “Chloe is no longer with us”. My daughters brought her to the vet and my youngest, Kerri, stayed with her during the euthanasia and then stayed longer. I go to my room. I am very, very sad. However, after a while of expressing that sadness I go back for our second lesson.

I do not know how I will be able to meditate but the mantra makes all the difference in the world. The mantra is “MARANATHA”. The repetition helps me not focus on Chloe while I am in the chapel.

Despite my grief I have things to learn here that are important to me. Our teacher was taught Christian Meditative Prayer by Laurence Freeman, OSB. He in tern was taught it by John Main. Before Main was a monk he was a member of the British Foreign Service in Malay. There he was taught to meditate by a Hindu monk. Main practices this meditation for years. Once he was a monk himself (Catholic not Hindu) he continued to meditate. Until he was caught by the abbot and told to stop. He stopped for years and then as a teacher came across the writings of one of the Desert Fathers, John Cassian. With this information Main began the modern Christian Tradition of Meditative Prayer.

Well, I love anything to do with the Desert Fathers. I love meditation and the music that was played before and after mediation was great. So, in between moments of sorrow this was a great talk.

We practice our meditation a second time and then had a lecture on the fruits of meditation. Dennis also gave us handouts and information on forming Christian Mediation groups. After the class was over he told us he was renting a car and driving to the ocean. He anted to know if anyone was interested in joining him. I could not raise my hand fast enough.

Umberto Taccheri, professor of Italian at St. Mary’s College, Bjorn Schellenberg, professor of Mathematics at the College of Mount Saint Vincent and Barry Dauphin, professor of Psychology at the University of Detroit all sign up for our little road trip. The drive from Portland to the coast is an hour and a half during rush hour. For me it seems forever but when I get too sad I focus on a mountain, the forest, and wildlife.

We finally arrive at Cannon Beach. It is beautiful. The smell of salt water, the sound of hundreds of gulls and the crashing of waves lets us know we have arrived.

Cannon Beach has enormous rocks jutting out of the water. We walk the beach, take pictures, and look for shells. Then we go to a Thai restaurant for dinner.

After dinner we walk some more on the beach. As I am looking at the Pacific Ocean Kerri calls me. We talk about Chloe, about Kerri’s job of being with Chloe to day. It is a sad conversation but we are happy to talk to one another and we are happy Chloe is no longer hurting.

We drive home and I have a restless nights sleep.

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