“Do you always finish your crosswords?” he asked her hoping for a conversation. I couldn’t hear her answer, but I watched her turn towards him, the friar with whom I traveled, setting down her pen, saying something with a slight tilt of the head and a kind smile. This was just after take-off.
The young lady, Irish in appearance, sat with her back to the small round window and a green scarf wrapped doubly around her neck. I saw in her pale water-color eyes an intellect both reserved and impressive. As he spoke to her of who he was and why, I watched them search his words with a kind of longing for what they contained, but she wasn’t impulsive. She strained her naturally soft voice against the wind resistance of the flying airplane countering his concerns clearly with the intellectual scripts of popular academia, but her voice lingered. Like a curious child before gifts not hers to open, she tip-toed around his thoughts with a certain necessity that came unfeigned in her voice heightening her beauty by its honesty and her sorrow in its severity.
He had a deeper voice. With southern charm he spoke boldly to challenged truths. From the aisle seat he followed her meandering thoughts: always suffering questions packed tightly with emotions and tensions leaving little room for any needed resolutions. As he navigated popular philosophy and a misinformed bio-chemistry his fingers spun patiently about the rosary beads in his lap. Constantly they were rolling over the wooden beads, unless fidgeting he stroked his beard, and he listened. His eyes I couldn’t see, but he spoke with a conviction she didn’t have.
After their conversation she closed her small window, got out her lap-top and played a movie she watched alone. The southern friar, up stretching his legs, played a children’s game with a Jamaican girl. He lost and we laughed about it later.
I was there when she said goodbye, the Irish girl; the words left her lips regrettably, though I wonder if she knew it. She spoke very politely, but her scarf was melancholy and she didn’t look any warmer for it.
+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR
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