Diamonds and Leopard Skin

Heavy, silvery frost.  Diamonds gleam
upon bent blades of grass weighted with light
as sunshafts melt the crystals.  A moment ago
I was rich in diamonds, but I’m no less rich
with the sun’s warmth and wet lawn.

One of the many paradoxes of monastic life is the implication of imminent apocalypse even as we live by ancient daily routines, as if such a stable life continues forever.  In our time science supports the sense of catastrophe.  Rather than averting their eyes from the impending danger, the CHS sisters seek fluency with concepts and data regarding peak oil, climate change, monoculture and seed control.  It’s difficult sometimes to face these facts day after day.  But I have children and will probably have grandchildren.   What use am I to them if I ignore reality and don’t help prepare them for their future?

Who needs leopard patterend scarves, shoes, handbags?  Here's a leopard slug right outside my door!  photo by Sr. Catherine Grace CHS

Who needs leopard patterend scarves, shoes, handbags? Here's a leopard slug right outside my door! photo by Sr. Catherine Grace CHS

As we watch the orgiastic consumer culture crumble, I believe our need for beauty will help us disassociate from the compulsion to possess it.  When we can’t enjoy the cheap adrenalin rush of going to the mall to purchase a pretty frill to bring home and wear once, we’ll lose our curse of boredom.  When it is financially prohibitive to acquire a glittery object to keep for a year, we won’t suffer over the guilt that our shiny thing will end up on a poisonous trash pile in Guatemala to be picked apart by sick children to trade for food.  

Perhaps then, we’ll find the beauty at hand, in nature, imagination, through exploration of the complex symmetry of the soul.  But to absorb this beauty, we will need to reclaim the skill of slowness, of noticing.  Each person already possesses the field in which the pearl of great price is buried.  The merchant knew to look within, and had the common sense to sell all he had to secure  that one field.


We’ve been reading The Gospel of Thomas during our Bible study.  These two sayings influcenced my thoughts this week.

Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the Father’s imperial rule is in the sky,’  then the birds of the sky will precede you.  If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you.  Rather, the Father’s imperial rule is within you and it is outside you.  When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father.  But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty.  (3:1-3)

Jesus said, “Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you.  For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. (5:1-2)

2 Responses to “Diamonds and Leopard Skin”

  1. margot critchfield Says:

    This is a beautiful and powerful reflection–thank you. I may be quoting you this week! And I pray you are right about the crumbling of the consumer culture and our need to “possess” beauty….
    blessings and gratitude,

  2. Diane Says:

    You are very gifted in your use of words to create imagery so beautiful.
    I admire your writing skills as well as your work on the meditations for each week. Thank you for those quotes and insights.
    I wonder do you ever go out to the public, the rest homes, the single people in your community who are so needy for attention? You have so much you could offer for their comfort & encouragement in their faith journey.
    Certainly St. Benedict in his counsel for “work” didn’t only think of that which kept one entirely from the outside did he? I hope you do go out.

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