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


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February 22, 198-


Dear Mary,

Itís 3 AM. Iím on a sick bed. Sleepless. Having thought of you, I wondered again what the meaning of your change of address could possibly be. A simple word from you could have clarified that. Without such clarification my sleepless mind was free to cover a number of scenarios that I have imagined in the form of possible letters from you. The style intrigues me, even if it seems to demean or manipulate you. Take what follows as a literary exercise that normally would have been stifled in its opening moments by virtuous discipline or frazzled fatigue. Full of chemicals, I am not fully responsible for what follows.



Possible letter #1


Dear Simeon,

Now that I have a few moments, I want to explain what must have seemed a mystery to you, my move back to the convent and out of the hospital. I gambled and lost. Itís as simple as that. There were some god-awful moments and some miserable days and nights, but I am beginning to feel whole again. There was no way I could put this down on paper until now.

I tried to discharge one of our senior staff doctors. I was justified in my own mind that this was a move for the benefit of the hospital and our patients. I started by suggesting to him that he resign. He is 60 years old, no longer dedicated, financially independent. He could retire gracefully and I need not disclose complaints of harassment, absenteeism, and some questionable medical decisions. What started out, as a calm exchange soon became a nasty scene. I had no idea of the hornetís nest I had opened up. He challenged me then and there. One of us would go. It turned out to be me. By the times I tried to pursue the issue through normal channels, he had whipped up such a political maelstrom that I had no chance. Raw political power is nothing short of awesome. Newspapers, radio, and TV were manipulated in his favor and against me with such skill that I lost all credibility with my board and with the public. At first, I was determined to fight, but the futility of it all was soon impressed upon me and for the sake of the hospital I felt it best to resign. I am confident that the doctor will resign soon. He knows my charges were true.

I have twinges of regret for sure. I will bear the scars of this for a long time, but Iíll manage. Iím a survivor. More later.

Mary




Possible letter #2




Dear Simeon,

I donít believe I told you. On November 22nd, my community elected me superior. I canít say I was totally surprised by the action. A number of indications of sentiment were communicated to me earlier on. I tried not to resist, though I pointed out the minor crisis that would develop at the hospital. While we have other nurses, no one in the community is really qualified to take my place. Needless to say, I have inherited that problem. I am keeping the title of administrator but have turned over the work to a qualified layman until Sister Dorothy can complete her internship as an administrator at St. Lukeís.

At Christmas, I didnít have time to explain all this. You can understand now the cryptic note about the January 10th change of address. So far everyone has been most kind. Fortunately I had dept close contact with the Motherhouse. I do not feel at all the stranger as I pick up on daily routines. Truth to tell, I like the change. Iíll know better after a year or so if it was a wise decision.

Keep me in your prayers.

Mary




Possible letter #3


Dear Simeon,

Iím back at the convent as you noted I would be. In my earlier note I simply wasnít up to explaining what was going on at the time. Now, I somehow need to. I need to talk to someone away from here, just to feel free to let it all hang out for a few minutes anyway. Can you allow me that?

Needless to say I presume you will. I feel you will understand me when I try to convey the devastation that I have experienced. Everyone here, of course, knows and tries to be understanding, but I feel Iím off in a world by myself. I want to get back into their world, but I canít force it; neither can they. I am determined not to let my life be ruined. I hope just walking through this experience will help me inch my way back toward wholeness and sanity. Bear with me.

On December 13th, in a small anteroom in the basement of the hospital around 11 pm, I was raped by an assailant. I had been to a dinner meeting with friends of the hospital, planning for a fund raising campaign. Although I was slightly aware I w3as being followed from my car to the back entrance, I was not frightened or panicky. After I had turned the key in the door which is kept locked all the time for security, a gloved hand reached over my shoulder and covered my hand still holding the key in the lock. A man whispered: ďKeep goingĒ and ďquietly.Ē I already felt violated. I never dreamed terror could be so debilitating. What strength I had drained out of me. There was a small room just inside the back door. Before the renovation this had been the emergency entrance. He wanted money. I really believe thatís all he wanted, but when all I could give him was the $2.46 in my purse, he was livid with rage. Had I had $50 or $100, I believe he would have taken it and left. But he didnít. I could almost see the decision developing. It was not born of lust; it was a violent expression of raw anger.

What happened, happened quickly. I canít believe how quickly and, despite my feeble resistance, how efficiently he did what he did. In one way itís all a blur to me now. It couldnít have taken more than a few minutes. When I deal with that way, it is more tolerable. Most of the time though the scene and all its violence moves slowly across my memoryóslow motionóstop slide by stop slide, as if I had photographed and tape-recorded each passing second. It seems to take hours to run by, and I relive the horror and terror of those cruel moments with their rawest pain. The unforgettable violence he did to my body, with all the physical hurt that accompanied it, is nothing to the violence he has done to my mind. He so violated me there that I feel him as really as if he had stuck a stick in my skull. I know I tried to scream while it happened, but I never hear the scream as I rerun the screen. That scream is still in me, and I know sometime before long Iím going to have to go somewhere and get it out. I just have this feeling that when I do, Iíll begin to get some control over this thing that intrudes on my every waking and sleeping hour.

I never had the slightest idea of how unraveling a rape can be. Hardly a day passes that I donít see another one reported. Only the victim have any idea how totally violated they are. As bleak as this sounds though, Simeon, I am mending. Each day I notice the distancing that is taking place. I never expect to escape completely, but I do hope, as time goes on, to pick up on friends and responsibilities again. For the moment Iím satisfied to try to establish a little distance between reruns when the heavy breathing starts and I listen carefully for the silent scream that accompanies the physical actions that have so devastated my spirit.

It helped to get this all out. Sorry if it sounds heartless. My heart is on hold for a while. Let me hear from you, and letís both hope that when we next meet this unnerving memory will have begun to fade.

Mary




Possible letter #4


Dear Simeon,

Would you believe, w


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