The Wind Beneath Our Wings

I first met that Irish monk years ago on the sidewalk.

I was alone, hesitant, looking for belonging

It was just the two of us standing there before Mass

when I found myself disappearing into the vast recesses of his robe

lost in the most loving, enrapturing hug I could possibly imagine

along with the thought that I could fly that day.


Later I watched as people lined up for those hugs

in single file or flocking closely together

touching and waiting for the kind words

the generous friendship

love, his greatest commodity

radiated and touched everyone out on the lawn

lifting them all just a little bit off the ground.


He was that way with the land and the valley too

the pastures and creeks

the forested terrain and hillsides scrubbed with aromatic sage

the beasts and birds of the air

creatures large and small

the singing coyotes and berry-filled bears

the noble elk and snowshoe hare

all who wandered under his stewardship

where they felt safe

and were his brothers.


We listened to him speak

with thoughtfulness and consideration

as he weaved scripture and meaning into the folds of our lives

with simple thoughts and carefully spun yarns.

As we gathered together for communion

he helped us to release the angst of our humanity

onto the hard brick floor

as the guitar played the strings in our hearts

and our hopes wafted high up to blend into the rafters of an exalted ceiling.


Like Hercules going through the back door

he quietly shouldered the world for us.

A gentle giant with great heart

perpetual humility, and unending perseverance

carried visions

read the stars

built cabins

repaired ditches

balanced books

carefully memorized

the complex sequencing of basement pipes

dueled with beaver and porcupine

brought people together

made peace

protected and guided

consoled and carried us

so that we could soar.


I had a dream about that Irish monk

years ago

where he flew a plane above rough terrain

towing a smaller plane behind him

lifting that plane up on morning thermals

while dodging electrical wires

lifting his brothers and showing us all

how to circumnavigate ever higher to God,

the way a father would

like the wind beneath our wings.


Robbin  T.  Hartridge
In celebration of the life of Fr. Joseph Boyle 1941-2018
Abbott of St. Benedict’s Monastery
October 2018
Sedona, Arizona