Father Simeon Daly, OSB - Finding Grace in the Moment: Stories and other Musings of an Aged Monk


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   Afternoon in Dusseld...
   An Emergency Run
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   Goodbye to Atlantis
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   How I Saved a Little...
   Jugoslavian Simeon
   Justice Gone Awry
   Kind words for Corde...
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   Rosetta Stone
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About Fr. Simeon

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Goodbye to Atlantis
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This little piece was mounted on the listserve, Atlantis, a location for ATLA librarians to query one another and pose questions. I took the liberty of placing this personal note there, fully aware that it was in general frowned on. The latter part of the remarks appeasr also as a separate piece among my stories.

Be forewarned that this note may not meet the criteria for this discussion group, but I risk putting in on because it is the easiest way to contact a major percent of my colleagues. I ask pardon ahead of time. I am reluctant to use attachments because they have been such bad news of late.

First let me say that the long awaited retirement of Fr. Simeon is scheduled for August 1st. In another note I will introduce my successor. Here I want to definitively say good-bye and thank you. The superior that appointed me said in passing that I should look on the assignment as my life work. I am not sure even he had any idea that it would turn out this way. He said that in 1949. There were many ups and downs especially in the first thirty years. These latter years have been much more positive. In 1983 we moved into a lovely new building. It is still a joy to work in it. I have had a loyal staff with whom it has been a pleasure to work. Two have been here fourteen year, one twenty-eight, and one forty-two. In these latter years too I became very involved with many of you and the work of ATLA. It has been a good run. I have looked on my work as a ministry. I have felt very fulfilled as a human person and as a religious person. In the Roman tradition vocation has been reserved for the higher callings to priesthood and religious life, so I hesitate to speak of my role as librarian as a vocation in that sense, but it has been a ministry. My service to this community will continue to touch the minds and hearts of patrons long into the futures as resources I have been able to supply and make available by catalogs will continue to be used.

I have also felt that I have had a role as a writer and a teacher even though my hours in the classroom have been very limited. A few years ago in a college faculty workshop on reading and writing across the curriculum, I wrote a little essay as part of an assignment. As a parting shot I would like to share some of it for what it says about me, but also for how it may encourage others to look on their work in a slightly different way.

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I empathize with those who struggle to revise an original piece of writing. Frequently the revised text says something entirely different than the first draft because I recognize some illogical progression, or a leap that I have made in my thinking. The text is evidence of a lack of clarity of thought in the first draft.

I am also intrigued by the concept of multi-levels in writing. Sometimes consciously, often unconsciously, I develop lines of thought that are open to communicating at different levels. Since most of my writing is on a religious topic, or, for the purpose of motivating, I believe I use words and phrases that can be "heard" at different levels. I hear myself as a teacher at one level and as a practitioner at another. I can almost detect on second or third reading where I have moved from a theorist expressing teachings I have been given, to the person who has experienced and lived a truth he wishes to share. A subtle shift, but it is there—in the words—in the timber of the voice when the words are spoken.

I am an avid reader. I enjoy stories. I am easily awed by the skills of authors who weave patterns of words that awaken feelings and images and sounds in my head and heart. I occasionally cry out at the beauty of a passage that moves me. I am sometimes so moved that I literally leave my reading place to collar someone with whom I can share my find—a practice, even when indulged in rarely, that does not endear one even to friends.

I remember once in the process of cataloging Newman’s sermons I was deeply touched by his sermon on the "Parting of Friends." I was so moved by the final paragraphs that I interrupted the work of Miss Skinner, our head cataloger. I read the passage aloud with tears in my eyes and a cracking in my voice. I had not taken into consideration that she was a devout Anglican. I realized how insensitive I had been when into the silence came the rhythmic click clack of her typewriter. I was too stunned to apologize. We never ever spoke of it again.

As a librarian, I am able on occasion, though the occasions become rarer as I become more ossified in administrative duties, to awaken in others an enthusiasm for the word. (Word here is multileveled symbol. It could mean literature, a good book, an accurate reference, Scripture, or the Son of God.) I am not a teacher in the classroom, but I am not without resources when dealing with a student, one on one. I am glad I am an avid reader, and enjoy being a librarian.

I also write. Not a lot, but I write enough to know the agony and the ecstasy of the process. I know first hand—with a pen in it—the difficulties the writer faces as he or she sits poised before the blank sheet. No time now to become someone else with other skills. Now is the hour and I must go with what I have. The whole history and mystery of who I am, how I analyze, how I make judgments is on the line here. The fantastic process takes place in me from head and heart to hand and pen. Soon through the medium of a few marks on a page I will be able to reach out to another’s mind and heart so that what is going on in me can go on in him or her. How dependent I am in those moments on skills learned over years of practice. Yes, I am a librarian and not a teacher. When I write, though, I think of myself as a teacher without benefit of podium.

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Thanks for listening. I am not leaving Saint Meinrad, just changing hats. I may continue to lurk a while, but it will be different. As for the future, I don’t know. I will be doing something compatible after a break. Don’t sit around waiting for my death notice. I won’t be!

Some of you may recall that I went to Israel in December of last year. At the cusp of the new millennium in the afternoon of the 31st of December, I stood in the prow of the boat I was in, on the Sea of Gallilee, and faced the future with open arms. The picture has become an icon for me of the attitude with which I face the future. This will be my official sign-off, but you will still hear from me occasionally. Fr. Simeon

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