update monday 27 february
I spoke with the doctor last night, and he confirmed that Br. Emmanuel had indeed suffered a major heart attack, and each day his heart tests are getting worse. That means at this point they cannot operate on his hip (really, it was a fractured upper femur), and he will never walk again. So now, with our approval and according to Emmanuel’s written wishes, we are moving into solely comfort care and hospice. Bede went down from Berkeley today to help with a transition to a hospice house or nursing home, and we can decide what else, if anything, to do after the roads open. At this point it is not clear that Emmanuel understands anything that is going on, so I/we have made the decision for him. Yesterday the nurse told him that he was a monk, and he thought that was the funniest thing he’d ever heard. I can almost imagine him saying: “A monk?! Heh-heh-heh… Well, how about that!? It’s a great mystery.” I have heard from several of our friends who have been to visit him in the hospital and they all confirm that his spirits are high.
We are all fine here. There is a really joyous spirit about the place, and it feels as if we are getting a chance to focus on the essentials of our life, our prayer and taking care of each other, with a little more silence, solitude and simplicity. The liturgies in the Chapter Room (due to low numbers and saving on propane heat) have been very sweet. Our cook left and has asked to take a month off, since we are so few, so four of us are taking turns preparing simple hearty midday meals with everyone chipping in to do the clean up. Our garden, even without our gardener Ryan, is bursting, and one of the staff has been gathering fresh produce for our salads each day. And we are squeezing orange juice from our own trees––all things we could be doing all along anyway. Since we can’t get out for the scheduled Rec Day tomorrow, we’re going to have pancakes for breakfast together, watch a movie together in the afternoon and have a little gathering in the evening with pizza and some extra libations for Mardi Gras.
Some of our staff have been down to see the construction on the road below us, the main issue. They are very serious about it being a “hard close,” and are not even happy about allowing any one to walk across the site. The good news is that they are working 24/7 to get it repaired, because they know what an important artery this highway is. We are told that there are only about 60 people left living here right now (I don’t know how far north that extends); everyone else has evacuated.
We have had scores of notes of encouragement and concern from people, and have already raised over $75,000 on our GoFundMe site, which was orchestrated by our development director, Jill, and business manager, Rich. I am grateful to them for keeping an eye on the financial losses that this disaster entails. We are and have been without our local staff for the most part, who cannot get here from their homes, all of which are south of us on the coast, but some of them are bravely going to try either to talk their way through the construction site or hike in through Lime Kiln Canyon at some point this week (as one couple did already last week). Again, it is odd not to have them around, but all that contributes to the added stillness about the place right now.
This will be an interesting way to quietly enter the season of Lent!