November 3, 1960

Beloved Brother Alwyn,

I thought you might like a photo of my new parish home at Mount St. Bernard.  Leicestershire will never hold the fondness of my heart like Caldey Island. I miss the whitewashed buildings, my herbs in the garden plot, and the long practices of silence. And even the punishment of storms that came across Priory Bay to pelt the fields of lavender. I suspect the abbot had known for some time our dialogues moved beyond utilitarian discussion of abbey maintenance and scriptural contemplation. And so, I am here for the mutual good. For salvation.

When I crossed the Caldey Sound ninety days ago, I saw for the first time a school of magnificent flying fish. The ferryman said they’re usually in warmer waters and that this was a special treat. I was left in awe at the frailty of the wings. I still marvel that pale transparent curtains could carry this creature over such a tremendous distance.

Such a seemingly impossible feat leaves me asking, can we ever hope to comprehend Him? How He makes two raindrops to fall on Kilimanjaro that end up in separate oceans.  How this servant cannot recall breakfast — and yet everything at Caldey is not only remembered, but, to me, the only truth that matters.

Before I boarded the ferry to Penally, I climbed our cliff. I thought about throwing myself off, but God kept me from this sin. Instead I turned toward England and spoke your name. I wanted it to reach Coalville before I did. Next time you ascend to that special spot where we watched the coast of Wales, face the east and whisper, “Levi.”

Above all, my brother, forgive me. So many wasted words. 


L. Mahayla Smith lives in downtown Knoxville with her jazz radio host husband and two very poorly behaved tuxedo cats. She credits any acceptable writing to her writing critique group, Writers Without Class, and their teacher, the divine Ms. Julia Watts.

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