I am winding down my intense month of work, silence, solitude, and prayer here at the Monastery of St. Gertrude.

Much of my time was spent refining and editing a little ms. I’ve been working up over the past couple of years: HARROWED: Misadventures in an Urban Garden. (Come on, who would not want to buy that!?)

Then, this past week, I was seized with the borderline manic, obsessive thought that I should revamp my entire website/blog. I’ve done many fine tunes, but the fact is that I’ve been maintaining this Blogger site for almost ten years!

And for about the last five, have been thinking of migrating over to WordPress, which has way fancier templates, widgets, gadgets, graphics et cetera.

As soon as I started investigating, I entered a vortex of possibilities, explorations, frustrations, excitement and fears. I’ll definitely need to hire someone to help me.

And I’ve also been thinking a lot about how I kind of pride myself on my home-made-ishness, which is fine except that “pride” may be the operative word. I tend impatiently to think, Okay, I have some small obligation to “get my stuff out there,” but I am going to spend MOST of my time on what I enjoy: the writing itself, the pondering, the wandering.

I tend to think of my “online presence,” such as it is, in other words, as a box I need to check off.

Whereas now, I’m thinking more, why not view a revamped website and blog as a project in itself, the equivalent almost of a book? Why not invite someone who knows what he’s doing (I have someone in mind already, and yes, it’s a man!) and collaborate? Why not look at the “face” I present to the world as its own work of art? (Not that I haven’t thought that all along, but I could definitely give 100% to it instead of maybe 68 or so).

I’ve had my domain,, hooked up to here,, so you’ve been able to find me either place.

While the new site is under construction, which will probably be months, I’ll continue to post and update news and events here, at shirtofflame.


In connection with all of the above, the below is from a talk entitled “RELIGIOUS SENSE AND ART: The human person’s aspiration toward beauty: A yearning for the ideal” given by Crossroads Cultural Center on March 8, 2010.

The speaker is Etsuro Sotoo, a Japanese sculptor strongly influenced by Gaudí and a convert to Catholicism

“No one knows what the future will bring. But it’s clear that Gaudí was headed in a direction completely different from the way mankind has progressed up to this point, and somewhat different from the way we are headed now. For example, buildings are built in opposition to the force of gravity. In New York today, people have build the most amazing buildings, but they’re really built against gravity; they don’t use the power of gravity.

Gaudí believed that the sun, the air, water, and even gravity, exist for us; that people are born from them. He believed that we and gravity are not enemies, but must be friends, and that this is the future. How long can we continue to fight against nature? Shouldn’t we instead use the power of nature to its fullest, use it 100%? Isn’t that the path people should take?

In order to not fight against gravity, Gaudí created his structures like an inverted suspended thread. In other words, by taking a formation designed by gravity and turning it upside down, he was able to use the power of design in his construction. By turning it upside down, gravity supports the structure. Can you understand this? It’s difficult to visualize, but it’s very simple. There are many people in the world who say they understand Gaudí. But he’s so simple that he is difficult to understand. That is Gaudí.

Gaudí believed in love. In his words, “First there is love, then technology.” Aren’t we completely dependent on technology? But the future is not in technology. If we were to proceed only with technology, how long would it be before mankind perished? What has brought us to this point has been friendship, the love of the family, love between people: because we value the heart. This is what has enabled us to live to this point. If we lose our hearts, if we choose to abandon love, then mankind will perish someday.”


  1. I visited Sagrada 15 years ago. Later I wrote about it for NZ Marist Messenger. A friend told me that three weeks after reading the piece a local couple were off to see it.
    It is an amazing structure

    1. I was in Barcelona decades ago during "the dark years" as I call them and did not even KNOW at that point of the Sagrada Familia–glad you made it there, and I may yet make it myself!

  2. I was there for some week in '89 or '90 and it was closed for renovations. It was only years later that i saw pictures of the interior and was awestruck at how it was even better in the inside. Gaudi is a Servant of God and am glad to hear of him here 🙂

  3. Anonymous says: Reply

    The "home-made-ishness" is what I like about this blog – I find the wanderings and the ponderings to be very interesting. I'm not sure if there needs to be any major stylistic additions. It's already a work of art.

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