I feel safe around you. I never wonder what you are thinking.
Is Larry going crazy? He isn’t just thinking about the plants these days, he has begun to talk to them. He finally admits his own worries- to the plants. “I know you are going to think I am crazy,” Larry said to a fern, “but your leaves seem to move toward me as I water you.” Larry was smiling at the plant and had been just about to reach out to stroke it when he saw the monk in charge of the garden come in.
The monk saw Larry draw his hand back and smiled down to himself. He had heard Larry talking to that fern before. He had told the Abbott, who didn’t think it was anything to worry about. Larry had never been heard to talk to himself in the corridors or when he was helping in the kitchen; it was only in the garden. The monk walked up to Larry and said, “that fern is doing well now, I had almost given up on it. (Larry smiled at the fern as he blushed). I have some other plants that aren’t doing so well. I wondered if you felt ready to start working with the vegetable patch? This time of year, we don’t get much from it. I was hoping with your help, we could do better.”
Why do you feel so excited? You don’t even like vegetables!
Larry’s heart was pounding. The monk liked his work! Larry’s adrenaline was pumping so fast through his body that if he hadn’t felt so happy, he would have wondered if he was having a heart attack. The monk saw Larry smiling but said nothing. Larry was trying to take on the value of modesty and the monk didn’t want to undermine his efforts.
Larry looked down at his feet and though he smiled, he said nothing. Larry owed the monks so much. He was trying to keep calm and controlled like they did. To try and show his gratitude, without saying things that wouldn’t feel comfortable to them, he had volunteered for extra chores, like washing up after meals; but he didn’t enjoy it, unlike working with the plants, this felt like a “duty” to him. All the monks had duties. Working with the plants, though, didn’t feel at all like a duty. He couldn’t explain it. His feelings of peace and happiness seemed to grow each time he worked with the plants.
At his next appointment at the rehabilitation center, Larry needed to wait for a few minutes before his therapist was ready. He had bought himself a book about plants and was deeply into the section on growing food in the winter when his name was called. His therapist was standing over him speaking his name again before his attention was drawn away from the book.
The psychologist was happy to see Larry so engrossed in something; he had seemed so depressed at their meeting last month. “Larry, things seem better for you. Tell me all about it.”
Have things changed? Larry looked up at the ceiling. It was bland and white. Not at all like the plants that were so many different shades of green. He smiled and looked at his therapist- she smiled back.
Where do I begin? Do I admit I haven’t remembered anything new? Do I admit I don’t even care anymore?
Psychologist patiently watched Larry as his face displayed a cascading flow of different emotions. e After a few minutes had gone by the therapist probed with, “Larry, I am wondering if something good has happened. You look more animated than before.” Larry looked at the woman and said calmly, “I haven’t remembered anything about my past. (1-minute pause) The monks all tell me to just be patient but (1-minute silence)” Larry finally blurts out, “what else could monks say?”
They both erupted into laughter at the same time. The psychologist said, “you are so right. (pause) But, you don’t seem worried about it like before.” Larry looked down at his hands, the hands that were learning how to care for plants. “I know I used to be so worried about whether I would remember anything. But now, I am remembering the new things I am learning. Maybe that’s why I really haven’t given my lost memories a thought.”
“It is good news that you can remember new things. This means your brain is healing well and your ability to learn hasn’t been harmed by your injuries.” The psychologist looked calmly at Larry, “Do you want to start thinking about what your future might look like, if you stay as you are?”
“I’m afraid the monastery will make me leave if my memory comes back”, Larry said. “I am surprised,” the psychologist said, “I thought your feared not getting your memory back.” “Yes, it was what I feared- before” he said slowly, “but now, I feel so at home at the monastery. I just never want to leave.”
Living with the monks feels so right to Larry now. He feels safe. How does that fit with the history of church leaders abusing their members?
Is the monastery a safe place for Larry?
To know what else to consider in coming to your own conclusions, consider reading this article about Pope Francis’ response to sexual abuse cover-ups in the Catholic Church: