From the Diary of Saint Kevin of Glendalough

By Doyle, Brian | Commonweal, October 10, 1997 | Go to article overview

From the Diary of Saint Kevin of Glendalough


Doyle, Brian, Commonweal


March 17, Saint Patrick's Day. Unbelievable event this morning: I take my usual walk out into the woods, find a clearing, kneel down, stretch out my arms in supplication to the Lord, and a blackbird lands in my left hand and lays a clutch of eggs. Moral dilemma for me: I detest blackbirds, but am constrained by my vow to love life in all creatures great and small. Have no choice but to remain still with arm outstretched. I write this with my right hand, as night falls.

March 18, Saint Cyril's Day. My arm is killing me. The blackbird spent all of today building a nest around the eggs, and now I am holding not only incipient birds but plant stems, grass, leaves, twigs, roots, and mud. There are four eggs. They're bluish-white, speckled and mottled, not unlovely. I can tell them apart by the slightly different pattern of speckles as well as by their arrangement in my hand, nicely reflecting the four holy directions. Believe me, I've had a lot of time to look at them. Am so thirsty I can barely spit, and at dusk today I was forced to answer the call of nature. Good thing I am on a slight rise, a kind of mossy hillock in this clearing.

March 19, Saint Joseph's Day. Rain. Got drenched. Always wondered what birds do to protect their eggs in rain. Answer: huddle over eggs and get drenched. Felt friendly toward the bird today. First time; have been feeling murderous. Forgive me, Lord.

March 20, Saint Wulfran's Day. Wulfran famed for virtue in spite of the seductions of the world. Wonder if he had to spend four days on his knees in the mud with a bird in his hand. Feeling murderous again today. Very nearly dropped bird, eggs, and all when seized by sneezing fit. Am starving. Am also wondering where the hell the rest of the monks are. Doesn't anybody miss me? When I get back to the abbey I am going to make the dust fly. "You're our leader, Kevin." "We wouldn't be here without you, Kevin," bah.

March 21, Saint Nicholas of Flue's Day. Nicholas was hermit, too, spent nineteen years without taking food or drink, lived only on the Eucharist. Tell me about it.

March 22, Saint Lea's Day. Spent her nights in constant prayer. Ditto. Bird and I spent hours staring at each other today. I love bird. Bright yellow eyes, iridescent blue-black sheen, delicate fingery feet. I really love bird. Considered reaching over suddenly and stuffing her whole in my mouth, crunching her little bones, and spitting out only her beak and toenails, but refrained after great struggle. Near thing, though.

March 23, Saint Turibius's Day. "Willingly exposed himself to the steaming climate of Peru," say the chronicles. Hmph. Bird eyeing me suspiciously today. …

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