Liturgy for a solemn afternoon

Pale sun, too weak to warm, Fell silently on the young owl sitting motionless in the desert gulch. Once in a while, its eyes blinked. Gazed upon, it showed no fear. Human curiosity could not discern its interior sickness. Behold, adore. Hagios ischyros. The hours wore on. Watchers came and went. The air grew chill and darkness fell. Did the owl thirst? In the dusk, its eyes closed and its muscles stiffened. It tumbled down the hill and lay still. The wood of a thorn tree had stopped its fall. At the abbey atop the mesa, a curtain fluttered. Behold, adore. Hagios athanatos. Wind ruffled the light and splendour of its feathers, and a gloved hand reached cautiously to lift the body. Black talons, sharp as razors, curled in an empty grasp.

The scent of skunk revealed the victim of their final swoop: The bird’s last supper had been rabid. A near-perfect creature, never would it glide again before dawn. Serene in death, it was buried. Behold, adore. Eleison imas.

Sr. Sheryl Frances Chen, OCSO