The week before last we friars were in Denver for a gathering of friars from the six U.S. provinces which are in the process of merging into one province. It was a kind of “get to know you” gathering, as the six provinces look 3-4 years down the road to eventually becoming a single U.S. province. We stayed at a hotel about 12 miles outside of downtown Denver. There were talks, small group discussions, prayer and mass, meals, reunions, and, one afternoon, planned excursions into either downtown Denver or to the outskirts of the city or to a Rockies-Dodgers baseball game.
There was a reception of novices one morning. There were reunions, as we caught up with friars from our own province who we had not seen in a while. There was sadness, as we heard the news that Br. Ed Coughlin, a friar who was president of Siena College near Albany, died early Tuesday morning after suffering a stroke. Ed was a youthful 71 years old; I had seen him only a few months ago at a gathering at Siena, and it hardly seemed possible that he was no longer with us. We prayed for Ed.
I had a room on the eighth floor of the hotel, looking west, and from my window I could see what one usually sees in these urban outskirts – more hotels, more anonymous-looking glass buildings, UPS and FedEx trucks turning and entering parking lots, a freeway in the middle distance with cars going north or south, exit ramps leading to other places, a commuter rail line to the city and beyond– the busyness and activity of another weekday, commuters coming and going, the work of the day. And on the far horizon, visible in the distance, the Rocky Mountains, and on some of them, snow. And at certain times of the day, the sun shined on those peaks, the light shining on them like a vision. It was a way to pray, in the morning or at night, just looking and being aware of the beauty of God’s created world, sometimes visible, sometimes elusive, but always a presence amid the everydayness of things.