At the entrance to Forest Park, a small group of people sit in a circle playing bongos and flute, with a statue of a buddha in the center. I'm sitting nearby reading Thomas Merton in Alaska.

This morning I was walking past the open door of a church when from within a hand beckoned me. As I'd been thinking about attending Mass (pons, pontiff), I walked in and sat down. At the altar, the Eucharist was ending. I mumbled prayers, sang, kneeled, crossed myself, turned and walked out the door, shaking the Celebrant's outstretched hand.

In 1968, Merton left the Monastery of Gethsemani, flying to New Mexico, California, Alaska, then on to India and Thailand. He had also planned to visit Japan, where I hoped to meet him. Before he could get there, he unwittingly electrocuted myself.

I miss this great soul. I would like to tell him that as electrical signals travel through the brain, triggering memory fragments and spurious input, the cortex pulls them together into stories and visual images. This, of course could be the explanation for the inspirational nature of dreams, especially...that this afternoon a friend informed me that I had not attended a Catholic, but an Episcopal, church.

And to hear Fr. Merton laughing: No pontiff, no pons.


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