update from cyprian, tuesday march 7

I feel so slow in a fast paced world… But here are my updates, one I meant to post Monday but got called away.

Update, Tuesday, March 7, 2017

As most of you already know, our beloved Brother Emmanuel, age 89, died serenely early morning March 6 at the Windsor care facility in Monterey. He never fully recovered from what wound up being a heart attack two weeks ago. He had a host of visitors Sunday and they all said that he continued to be joyful to the end.

I was bound and determined not to check my email before breakfast, but while I was writing something else on my computer Monday morning at about 6:15 AM the emails just started coming in to my mail program. I happened to notice a notification from Jana, our hospice nurse that was entitled “Emmanuel” and lucky I checked. With no way to call, she was informing that he had died at 4:40 that morning. I quickly let one or two of the monks know and then jumped in the car because the construction site at Paul’s Slide and the other at Nacimiento Ferguson Road both close hard at 7 AM. I was able to get through, got to spend some time with, and anoint and pray next to Emmanuel’s poor old beat up body. I also got see Gabriel in his new temporary housing in Salinas, and deal with a pile of paperwork for the both of them.

Since there is little access to the Big Sur right now, there will be a public viewing for our local oblates and friends at Mission Mortuary, 450 Camino El Estero in Monterey, Friday March 10th from 4 to 8 PM, with a rosary at 6:45 and a Wake Service at 7. Pending road construction, we hope to bring his remains home as soon as possible for a funeral with the monks and staff who loved Emmanuel so dearly. Here is part of the official obituary.

Richard Wasinger was born October 14, 1927 to a German speaking household on the family farm near Loretto, Kansas. In his last days he often spoke dreamily of Kansas and the wheat fields. He became a Benedictine monk, taking the name Joseph, at Holy Cross Abbey, Canon City, Colorado, making first vows in 1957. He then followed his novice master, Fr. Joseph Diemer, to New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur in 1965, seeking a more contemplative life. He was always a warm and friendly presence, and was very dedicated to the Eucharist, the Divine office, and also to the Rosary and Way of the Cross. He delighted in taking care of our generators (which provide all our electricity), maintaining and operating the heavy equipment, and keeping our roads clear, as well as occasionally planting corn. He is also remembered for having a special kinship with nature, animals, plants and even the weather. Br. Emmanuel is survived by his sister Bernadette and brother Edwin, and a nephew, Shane, who is a priest in the Diocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory!

Update, Monday, March 6, 2017

Raniero, Jim Weston (our hired caregiver) and I took Br. Gabriel up to the Teichert’s townhouse in Carmel on Wednesday evening when we thought the shift was changing at Paul’s Slide, prepared to have to wait for up to an hour. But we actually were whisked immediately through. And then the long ride over the mountain on Nacimiento Ferguson Road after that crew got off work. The immediate reason for taking Gabriel up there was that we are running low on propane particularly up on the east side, and the infirmary is both the most dependent on propane and the biggest consumer of it. There were some other reasons as well, including being nearer to supplies and to Jana, our hospice nurse, concern about the possibility of another emergency, and dwindling energy here. I knew this was only a short-term solution, so Jim, Raniero and I sat down and mapped out possible scenarios and plans for the weeks ahead. The best solution seemed to be, as much as I did not like it, to get Gabriel placed in a skilled nursing facility again for a time. So Jim and I spent the better part of Thursday and Friday morning trying to put that in place. To make a long story short, at the last hour, just before I was to head back down to Big Sur, I made one more call and found out that there was a room available at a place in Salinas called Windsor Skyline. It was like a miracle. Raniero and Jim moved him in with the help of Jana on Saturday, and I am happy to report that Raniero was able to begin his Lenten solitude retreat at Vajrapani Center in Boulder Creek tomorrow. We have a month for Gabriel at Windsor, due to a generous donation from some religious women in Orange County, and then we can figure out what to do from there, but I certainly hope to bring him back home well in time for Easter.

Emmanuel is well settled now into Windsor’s other facility in Monterey. Our friend Joe Kordsmeier had visited him several times and was the first call on their list until we got up there, since we have been without phones. Emmanuel is very joyful and peaceful, and does not seem to be in a lot of pain (or at least, in typical fashion, will not admit to it). His cognitive functions come and go, but he knew who I was and sometimes asked about current things at the Hermitage. A lot of the time he thinks he’s in Kansas (he talks about wheat a lot, quite poetically) or Colorado. He had a bad “episode” on Thursday night and is on oxygen full time now. Jana is also his hospice nurse, and Jim will be able to visit both Gabriel and Emmanuel since he is staying up there for the time being.

I got home in an interesting convoy Friday night just as the crews were finished working again, followed by Jordan, who lives with us, our neighbor Ken Harlon, his wife Rosa, and Sam Farr from across the street. Like the last three trips out, every time I get home I am happier to see New Camaldoli.

For the next few days Highway 1 will be open (to locals only) 7 PM to 7 AM, but not at all during the intervening hours. They think that the fuel trucks can get into the Big Sur by the 13th. Our road is holding still but it is not clear yet if it can handle the delivery trucks. There was some food air lifted in to Big Sur yesterday, but Benedict is going to try to go south to get groceries one day this week, and the rest of us will still only make trips out that are absolutely necessary at this point.

We’re all doing fine here, staying on the modified simplified schedule for now, with liturgies in the chapter room to save on propane. The brothers have been marvelously patient and adaptable throughout. Our chef Chris is gone, so we are taking turns cooking good simple meals again, which has been really good. As I keep saying, so it is true, this has all been a wonderful exercise not only in trust, but also in getting back to the basics. I hope that all this will lead us to a broader discussion about the adaptive challenges facing us in the years ahead.

We have gotten so much publicity in the last week, it’s almost embarrassing: an article in the local Pine Cone, a spot on KSBW TV, an article on the CNN website, a Skyped interview with a couple of guys on CBS national news last night, and today an op-ed by Pico Iyer in the LA Times. “Monks Trapped in Big Sur” has a certain ring to it. It has also drawn a lot of folks’ attention to our GoFundMe website which has done very well for us.

Thanks to all of you for your donations as well as your love and prayers.


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