This photo was taken by my aunt, Carol Wagner of Deshler, Ohio, who was here last week with many other relatives and friends from northwest Ohio to celebrate my solemn profession. Pictured are two other guests, Jim and Bette Gerschutz of Custar, Ohio. Jim, otherwise known as "Chicken Man" (he has perfected a hilarious impression of a strutting, clucking chicken, culminating in a rooster crow that could shake the rats out of the rafters two states away), is the cousin of my late father and his brothers and sisters.
Jim and Bette have been married a long time, and have raised a fine family. They have seen their share of heartache and pain, but are still truckin'. Carol, married to my father's brother Joe, took this photo the morning of my vows. She says:
To me it signifies true devotion to your spouse and partner—and we couldn’t have gotten there without them.Well put. I would add that the image could also serve as a metaphor for the monastic life--or any other lifelong commitment, for that matter. It's for the long haul, and we don't get there without the grace of God and the support of one another.
Carol, incidentally, is a romance novelist (she says she is retired, but I don't quite believe it). For many years, she and her sister Marian Franz have written romance novels (for Harlequin and several other publishers) under the pen names Marisa Carroll, Joellyn Carrol, Jo Bremer, and Malissa Carroll.
I'll bet there aren't too many other Benedictine monks who can boast an aunt who writes romance novels and a cousin who can dance his way around a rooster. To top it off, my Uncle Joe makes a mean bowl of chili! And I haven't even mentioned my Uncle Kenny, who's in a league of his own!