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I asked Reverend Father what made Brother [Gregory, who had just died] so saintly. I don’t know what kind of answer I was hoping to get. It would have made me happy to hear something about a deep and simple spirit of prayer, something about unsuspected heights of faith, purity of heart, interior silence, solitude, love for God. Perhaps he had spoken with the birds, like Saint Francis.
Reverend Father answered very promptly: “Brother was always working,” he said. “Brother did not even know how to be idle. If you sent him out to take care of the cows in the pasture, he still found plenty to do. He brought in buckets of blackberries. He did not know how to be idle.”
I came out of Reverend Father’s room feeling like a man who has missed his train.
• Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas