Friday, May 20, 2011

Swiss Sanders

As I write this, Einsiedeln's Br. Mauritius is likely midway over the Atlantic on his way back to Switzerland. Earlier today, I drove him to the airport in Louisville, Ky., about and hour and a half east of Saint Meinrad Archabbey.

He had been studying here in the School of Theology and staying with us in the monastery since last August. Of course, it was also about this time last year that I was flying to Switzerland for a summer at Einsiedeln, where I first met him.

It is strange. We are from different countries, different backgrounds and cultures, and our age difference is vast (almost 20 years). Yet, the two of us really hit it off, and we have become good friends. I will miss him, as will the rest of the monastic community here at Saint Meinrad. Although I know he will be glad to be back home, he fit in well here. We were blessed to have him with us this past year, and wish the best for him and all the monks at our motherhouse in Switzerland.

By now, you are probably wondering why in the world this post is accompanied by a photo of a Colonel Sanders statue. Well, let me tell you. Colonel Sanders, as you know, is the iconic face of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Sanders (1890-1980), was from Henryville, Indiana, and died in Louisville. He founded KFC and was known for his trademark white suit, black tie, white beard, and black cane.

What's that got to do with Br. Mauritius? At the airport in Louisville, after he checked his bag, Br. Mauritius suggested we sit down for one last meal together before he went through security and boarded his flight. "You know, I haven't eaten at a Kentucky Fried Chicken yet." Well, right there on the main concourse level of the Louisville airport is a KFC. I had not eaten at a KFC for years, but that's where we ate lunch before we bid one another farewell. Br. Mauritius' last meal on American soil was in Louisville, Kentucky, at a Kentucky Fried Chicken--five feet away from a statue of Colonel Sanders sitting on a bench.

Oddly, that seems entirely fitting.

The photo above is not mine; I found it online. But is is the same statue at the same airport. Before leaving for the airport this morning, I ignored an impulse to take along my camera. Wish I had. Would have been a perfect parting shot.

Then again, maybe it's better left to the imagination--Colonel Sanders and a Swiss monk sitting side by side on a bench. What a wonderful world.

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