Compassion saying ‘no’ and saying ‘yes’

Sister Beatrix’s days as a postulant are unfolding, and each day Mother Magdalene observes her growth and is pleased with what she sees, all but for one thing. Sister Beatrix just is not able to discern when to say ‘no.’ Even in the cloister, with its schedule and practices of discipline and silence, Sister Beatrix is becoming increasingly frenetic with projects she has committed to taking up and to finishing.

Mother Magdalene sits with Sister Beatrix and shares this observation with her. Sister Beatrix replies, “But Mother, I thought that I should be of service to the other Sisters. Isn’t commitment to the life and projects of the community an important part of life in the cloister?”

Mother Magdalene smiled, and agreed that indeed that is so. Then she settled back into her chair and shared this story with Sister Beatrix.

A long, long time ago, when the Sisters of Mary Magdalene were a small cloister in the far off memories of those who live today, three elder women, one of whom had a bad reputation, came one day to Mother Achilles, the head of the cloister in those days.. The first woman asked her, “mother would you weave me a basket?” “I will not,” she replied.

The second woman asked, “Of your charity, weave a basket for me, so that we have a souvenir of you in the monastery.” But she said, “I do not have time.”

Then the third woman, the one with the bad reputation, asked, “Mother, will you weave me a basket, so that I may have something from your hands, Mother.” And Mother Achilles answered her at once, “For you, I will make one.”

The other two women asked her privately, “Why did you not want to do what we asked, but you promised to do what she asked?”

The Wise Woman, Mother Achilles, said to them, “I told you I would  not weave you a basket, and you were not disappointed, since you thought that I had not time. But, if I had not woven one for her, she would have thought, “The old woman has heard about my sin, and that is why she does not want to make me anything. And our relationship would have broken down. But now I have cheered her soul, so that she will not be overcome with sadness, self recrimination, and grief.”


“Dear Sister Beatrix,” Mother Magdalene continued, “Just as we must attend to authentic commitment and engagement within our community, there are also dangers of over involvement and over engagement that we must be aware of and guard against. Be cautious of anger, greed, a desire to be relevant, spectacular, and powerful. Be attentive to fining the middle path. Do your best each day, learn each day, and learn from your moments of frustration, learn new skills, learn when to say yes, and when to say no. Each in its own time. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. That is the heart of compassion, compassion that finds its roots in the knowledge that nothing human is alien to us.”



may all women be dangerous women

this morning I found this prayer by Lynne Hybels entitled Dangerous Women Creed posted on the WATER (women’s alliance for theology, ethics and religion) email list.  May it inspire us all to live out our faith courageously as healers, peacemakers and leaders in our world as we work together to give birth to a world of justice where all living beings flourish in dignity and respect . . . 

Dear God, please make us dangerous women.
May we be women who acknowledge our power to change, and grow,
and be radically alive for God.
May we be healers of wounds and righters of wrongs.
May we weep with those who weep and speak for those who cannot s
peak for themselves.
May we cherish children, embrace the elderly, and empower the poor.
May we pray deeply and teach wisely.
May we be strong and gentle leaders.
May we sing songs of joy and talk down fear.
May we never hesitate to let passion push us, conviction compel us,
and righteous anger energize us.
May we strike fear into all that is unjust and evil in the world.
May we dismantle abusive systems and silence lies with truth.
May we shine like stars in a darkened generation.
May we overflow with goodness in the name of God and by the power of Jesus.
And in that name and by that power, may we change the world.
Dear God, please make us dangerous women.

 … written by Lynne Hybels

Happy Easter, Happy Season of Greening, Manifesto: the mad farmer liberation front

today is Easter. We decided to go to church to honor the moment and to re-member. It was the right choice.

The gathering words were taken from a poem by Wendell Berry. The words seemed so right, I thought I would share them with you. I hope they are as meaningful for you as they are for me.

The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.

When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go.

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

“Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” from The Country of Marriage, copyright ® 1973 by Wendell Berry, reprinted by permission of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.

Learning swordsmanship & Action through Nonaction (wu-wei)

From Joseph Campbell’s ‘Myths to Live By’

Once upon a time, in another time and place, there was a master swordsman who established a school so that he could share his knowledge with the boys of the village. Boys who wanted to learn swordsmanship would come and live in the school with the master. When they first came, he would set them to doing chores – washing the dishes, doing the laundry, sweeping out the rooms, etc. – and then he would ignore them for a while. After a few days he would come up from somewhere and smack one or the other of them with a stick.  The smacking would go on for a while, and then the boys would begin to be prepared for the whack; and then the master would alter his tactic, and he would come upon the boys from another side, another angle. Finally, one by one the boys would each learn that he must be prepared not from any particular direction, but rather from a constant and consistent state of centeredness – an undirected alertness ever ready for immediate response. In Japan, this is known as wu-wei, doing without doing, or action without action.

The master carefully monitored the boys progress, and one day he told his students that he would bow before anyone who, in any way whatsoever, could catch him by surprise.  Days passed and the master was never caught. He was ever aware and ever vigilant.  He was never off his guard, not even for a moment.

Life in the school went on, and all was well. Mostly that is. As you might imagine nothing is ever perfect. In fact, in addition to the boys in the village, there was one young girl who also wanted to learn how to become a swordswoman.  The master flatly refused, telling her that work with swords was for men only.  The girl persisted and finally asked the master if she could come and work in the school. Finally he relented and allowed her to work in the kitchen. But she was forbidden to touch the swords, and was restricted from even observing the classes in sword-techniques. She diligently attended to all of her work in the kitchen, and very, very discretely she would hide and watch the boys as they learned to hold and wield their swords. The master knew that she broke his second rule, but he quietly kept watch and allowed her to observe from a distance.

One day the master returned to his hut from a long day of teaching and working in the garden. He asked for a bowl of water to wash off his feet. The young girl brought it from the kitchen. The master felt the water was a bit cold, and so he asked her to warm it. The girl returned with a bowl of hot water, and the master, without thinking, put his feet in, quickly pulled them out, and when down on his knees in a very deep bow before the girl. He bowed deeply before the one student he had rejected. As he rose from the bow, he welcomed the girl to full status as a student among all the other students.

Joseph Campbell tells us that the mistake of inadvertence, not being alert, not quite awake is the mistake of missing the moment of life. The whole of the art of the nonaction that is action (wu-wei) is unremitting alertness. In practicing wu-wei, in living wu-wei one is fully conscious all the time, and since life is an expression of consciousness, life is then lived fully. There is a Zen saying that is the evening message at many Zen sangha’s (communities):

Life and death are grave matters.
All things pass quickly away
Each of us must be completely alert:
Never neglectful, never indulgent.

May we honor this message well, with deep thought and compassionate wu-wei.

Gifts: to accept or not to accept that is a question; and The Gift of Insults

The sagas and myths associated with Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido are legend. I’m not sure that this particular one is attributed to him in particular, but it is a bit of a classic Zen story that could be about him. Or it could be about you …

Once upon a time, there lived a great warrior. Even when the warrior was quite elderly, no one was able to best the fighter, every challenger was defeated.  The reputation of this great sensei extended far and wide throughout the land and many students gathered to study in the dojo.

One day an infamous young warrior arrived at the dojo. He was determined to be the first man to defeat the great master. Along with his strength, the stranger had a unique ability to spot and exploit any weakness in an opponent. He would watch and wait for his opponent to make the first move. In that first move, weaknesses were revealed, and the stranger would then strike mercilessly with both speed and force. He would dance like a butterfly and sting like a scorpion.  He would poke and jab and taunt and test. No one had ever lasted with him in a match beyond the first move.

When the stranger challenged the great master, the old master gladly and graciously accepted, much to the concern of the students in the dojo. As the two squared off for battle, the young warrior began to hurl insults at the old master. He threw dirt and spit in the face of the master. For hours he verbally assaulted the sensei with every curse and insult known to humanity. But the sensei stood calmly, motionless waiting. Finally, the young warrior exhausted himself. He recognized and acknowledged his defeat and left feeling shamed.

Somewhat disappointed that no blows were exchanged with the insolent youth, the students gathered around the old master and asked “How could you endure such an indignity? How did you drive him away?”

“If someone comes to give you a gift and you do not receive it,” the master replied, “to whom does the gift belong?”

Hmm …  everyone is a teacher. Everything offer to us, everything hurled at us is a gift. It is always and everywhere our choice as to whether and how we will accept the gift.


On the day we acknowledge Dr. King & toward the day we acknowledge human dignity

Today, January 21, 2013 is the day that the United States has deemed to remember the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  We remember him in recognition of his work to end – well to challenge – racism within the United States of America.  That is a work in progress for sure.  In lots of places you will find his “I have a dream” speech.  It is an important speech. You should go read it.

Here, today, I wanted to share with you two of my favorites for thinking about and challenging racism. One is a poem by Pat Parker… it names and plays with stereotypes that so many white people hold about people of color. It plays with the struggles white people manufacture when we finally try to get over ourselves and open to developing relationships with people of color – as if that is the great gift all people of color have been waiting for all their lives (maybe, just maybe no so much!).

The second excerpt is the White Privilege Inventory that has been developed from Peggy McIntosh’s essay on Unpacking White Privilege.  … Because so many white people still think it is an even playing field.

So, read the poem, please. Think about it with an open heart. … of course she’s angry. And she is also laughing, I think.  Then fill in the inventory. Just how many privileges do you enjoy?  And, then … take one little step outside of your comfort zone. Do some little thing to make this world of ours a bit more fair, a bit more respectful of the dignity of ALL sentient beings, a bit more compassionate?

Pat Parker poem – ” For the White Person Who Wants to Know How to Be My Friend”?
The first thing you do is to forget that i’m Black.
Second, you must never forget that i’m Black.

You should be able to dig Aretha,
but don’t play her every time i come over.
And if you decide to play Beethoven–don’t tell
me his life story. They made us take music
appreciation too.

Eat soul food if you like it, but don’t expect me
to locate your restaurants
or cook it for you.

And if some Black person insults you,
mugs you, rapes your sister, rapes you,
rips your house, or is just being an ***–
please, do not apologize to me
for wanting to do them bodily harm.
It makes me wonder if you’re foolish.

And even if you really believe Blacks are better
lovers than whites–don’t tell me. I start thinking
of charging stud fees.

In other words, if you really want to be my
friend–don’t make a labor of it. I’m lazy.


Score 5 if statement is always true for you

Score 3 if the statement is sometimes true for you

Score 0 if the statement is seldom true for you

Because of my race or color …

1. _____ I can be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

2. _____ If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area in which I would want to live and which I can afford.

3. _____ I can turn on the television or open the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely and positively represented.

4. _____ When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that my people made it what it is.

5. _____ I can be sure that curricular materials will testify to the existence of my race.

6. _____ I can go into most supermarkets and find the staple foods that fit with my cultural traditions.

7. _____ I can go into any hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair.

8. _____ Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.

9. _____ I can swear, dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, poverty or illiteracy of my race.

10. _____ I can do well in challenging situations without being called a credit to my race.

11. _____ I am never asked to speak for people of my race.

12. _____ I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.

13. _____ I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the “person in charge,” I will be facing a person of my race.

14. _____ I can conveniently buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards and children’s magazines featuring people of my race

15. _____ If a traffic cop pulls me over, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.

16. _____  I can go home from most meetings of the organizations I belong to feeling tied in rather than isolated, out of place, outnumbered, unheard, feared, or hated.

17. _____ I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of race.

18. _____ I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.

19. _____ I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.

20. _____ If my week or year is going badly, I need not wonder if each negative episode or situation has racial overtones.

21. _____ I can comfortably avoid, ignore or minimize the impact of racism on my life.

22. _____ I can speak in public to a powerful group without putting my race on trial.

23. _____ I can choose blemish cover bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.

_____  TOTAL

adapted from Peggy McIntosh “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”

On loving your neighbor as yourself

 I find the great invocation, “love your neighbor as yourself” which finds expression in many of our world’s religions, to be problematic, not because I have any trouble with the idea of loving my neighbor, but because as I look around my world I simply do not think that many (if any) of us love ourselves all that well. Love your neighbor as yourself. How well do any of us really love ourselves? Psychiatry, psychology, social work and self help industries would not be flourishing to the degree that they are if authentic self love flourished. Rather self love stands as an anathema, it is more often taken as self indulgence rather than acceptance and cherishing based on awareness, knowledge and insight.  More often those who begin to walk the path of self-acceptance experience a duality within themselves – good and evil, angel and demon, love and hate – and then work to nurture one side while banishing the other. But, a house divided against itself will never stand. Until we each learn to fully cherish our selves for all of who we are, in all of our wonderful, delicious complexity, there will be no loving the other well. Until we each learn to fully cherish our selves for all of who we are, in all of our complexity, and until we learn to love each other well, there will be no justice, no respect for human rights, no peace.

 ‘Love yourself well, and love your neighbor as yourself’ is perhaps a better rendition of the precept. Karen Armstrong has eloquently described a path to loving our neighbor in her book, “twelve steps to a compassionate life.” The first step: learn about compassion progresses to look at your own world; develop compassion for yourself; develop empathy with others; practice mindfulness; take action; be aware of how little we know; consider how we should speak to one another; act with concern for everybody; continuously develop your knowledge; expand your recognition; and love your enemies.

 And as I come back to ‘love yourself well’ and Armstrong’s second step, ‘develop compassion for yourself’ I find myself thinking about how little we seem to appreciate the depth and breadth of human complexity, of how the trajectory of understanding trends toward parsimony and simplicity. But we are neither parsimonious nor simple beings. To bring Occam’s razor to understanding ourselves (and others) may be nothing more than self injury and cutting at best and perhaps slitting our wrists at worst.

 Recently, as I was reading Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf, on page 75 I came across a particularly apt metaphor for what I am trying to get at here:

A person designs for herself a garden with a hundred kinds of trees, a thousand kinds of flowers, a hundred kinds of fruit and vegetables. Suppose, then, that the gardener of this garden knew no other distinction than between edible and inedible, nine tenths of this garden would be useless to him. He would pull up the most enchanting flowers and hew down the noblest trees and even regard them with a loathing and envious eye. This is what we do with the flowers of our soul. What does not stand classified as either man or wolf, what does not fit neatly into our predefined dichotomies we do not see at all.

 In order to love our selves well, we need to learn to look at ourselves with open hearts and minds, with the eyes of loving kindness and fierce open hearted compassion. Then we can begin to love our neighbors as our selves. Then we can begin to work together to build a world of justice, a world where human dignity (in all of its messy complexity) is respected, a world of peace where differences and diversity is celebrated!

Mary Oliver and Wild Geese

 It is that time of year again. It is always some time of  year, it is always again. This time, in this moment, we are approaching Thanksgiving, the Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah; we are approaching the season of giving thanks, and of clinging to the hope that light will come again into our lives, our world.  At moments like this, I often take solace in the poetry of Mary Oliver. Wild Geese is one of my most favoritest poems by her. It is already all over the web, so I hope to high heaven I am not breaking too many copyright protections in reposting it here for you all to enjoy!  Maybe you can take it as an invocation to go and check out one of her books from the library? Or maybe even head over to your independent bookstore and buy one for yourself?

 “Wild Geese,” by Mary Oliver from New & Selected Poems (Harcourt Brace).

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
       love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

And, here is a UTube Link to Mary Oliver herself reading Wild Geese and a couple of other poems:

Last night I wrote the strangest blog — the bull and the butterfly

Now and again I find myself thinking, wondering, not quite worrying about where the next story will come from. When I find myself in those quandaries I meander over to the computer and google (how DID we ever live without google?).  So, recently I googled “social change” and “stories.” When that didn’t yield what I wanted, I tried “parables” instead. That lead to some interesting links.  One was a parable about a bull and a butterfly. 

 In my version of the parable there was a bull named Butch who wanted to trash a china shop because the rumor around the farm was that the owner of the shop not only did not carry fair trade china, but also participated in human trafficking. But, Butch resisted the urge because he did not want to feed the ‘bull in a china shop’ stereotypes, and he didn’t want to wind up in the slaughter house becoming nothing more than burger meat for some fast food chain. So, butch stomped around the pasture storming and steaming, but getting nothing much done. As he paused under a tree, a butterfly, Mariposa, landed on Butch’s ear, and asked him what the trouble was. Butch twitched his ear, to be rid of her, but Mariposa was not to be dissuaded.

“Butch, what’s up with you today?” She persisted.

Butch was nothing if not a realist, so he told her the story.

Mariposa laughed at hearing the story, paragon of empathy and compassion that she is not. “Butch, you have been rendered impotent by your self-consciousness and social anxiety. Big as you are, I have more power than you. I am fast, I am nimble, I can flit, I can fly. I can render the butterfly effect. I flap my wings in California and incite a tornado in New Jersey.”

At that Butch laughed, and said, “Well, Ms. Mariposa, I suppose then we are about equal, if you have all of that power and don’t bother to use it.”

 And the meaning of this parable? So many I suppose … impotence rendered by excessive worry about what others will think, by fear of consequences, by attachment to identities. 

 And, as I thought about the meanings and implications I found myself caught on the idea of attachments and identities, and I remember Chuang Tzu’s dream about a butterfly. One night Chuang Tzu dreamt that he was a butterfly, flying here and there and seeing the world from new heights, gaining a new perspective on life and living. He woke with a new sense of lightness. And then he thought to himself, “yesterday, was I a man who dreamt about being a butterfly, or today am I a butterfly who dreams about being a man?” And, as he rose to greet the day, he said to the sangha, “last night I had the strangest dream.”

 And, that phrase of course led me to remembering the Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez and Simon and Garfunkel tune …  

 Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream

words and music by Ed McCurdy

 Last night I had the strangest dream I’d ever dreamed before I dreamed the world had all agreed To put an end to war

 I dreamed I saw a mighty room Filled with women and men And the paper they were signing said They’d never fight again

 And when the paper was all signed And a million copies made They all joined hands and bowed their heads And grateful pray’rs were prayed

 And the people in the streets below Were dancing ’round and ’round While swords and guns and uniforms Were scattered on the ground

 Last night I had the strangest dream I’d never dreamed before I dreamed the world had all agreed To put an end to war.

And I know that dreaming is not enough. But I also know that dreaming is a necessary first step. Dreaming, meaning making … and then action, yes? yes!

 All of which led me to write this strangest blog.

 And, so, please … it really is time to share!  What meanings can you find in the parable of the bull and the butterfly? What meanings can you find in any of this? What actions are you taking for peace and justice?

Wanting to have MU

 We were sitting in the student center, each drinking a cup of coffee, saying our goodbyes. Over the past semester, Ludis and I had co-taught a course, we had talked about life and hopes and dreams, I guess you could say that we had become friends of a sort. Why the qualification? Well, we never went out to dinner, we didn’t do things off campus, we didn’t exactly hang out together. But we did talk before and after class, and we seemed to like each other well enough. So, friends of a sort. As we sat there talking, I asked Ludis if he was ready to head home to Lithuania.

 “In many ways, more than ready. I very much miss my wife and son. It has been far too long since I have seen them. I want to hold them both, each of them, for a long time.” He said blushing a bit at the last admission.

 “And, are you packed? Is there anything you want to do here that you haven’t gotten to yet?”

 “Yes, one more thing.” He said. “I want to buy a sweatshirt from your book store.”

 “A sweatshirt?” I asked a bit incredulous. Ludis just didn’t seem the kind of guy who would care very much about college logo clothing. Let’s just say, in the months that I had known him he did not strike me as a clothes horse. He did not dress badly, but he certainly was neither flashy nor cool. More, I saw him as guy who always wore neat, clean clothes but who had more important things on his mind than haute couture. So, his one last desire being the acquisition of a university logo garment seemed kind of odd.

 “I don’t understand, Ludis, what’s so special about a sweatshirt from here?”

 “Think about it, he laughed, the school’s initials are MU.”


 “And you talk about Zen Buddhism?.” He said sounding a little disappointed.

 “I do, some. But what’s that got to do with it?”

 “MU” he said, “the school for you here, and the koan for Buddhists.”

 And then, finally the light went on for me. Of course, the great Buddhist koan, also known as the first gate to enlightenment. For over ten years I had taught at the university. How many times each year had I written the school’s initials, and I never saw the connection! How many times had I read and reread and meditated on that Koan! At one point I even thought I was beginning to get it. Ugh. Clearly, I did not have it yet. But then, that too is the point of the koan, isn’t it?

 In Japanese, Korean and traditional Mandarin, ‘mu’ means not, nothing, nothingness, without, non-existent or non-being. For Zen Buddhists, one of the first koans is known as MU. A koan is riddle like paradox used to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning as the only mode of knowing; mediation on koans help to provoke openness to enlightenment. The ‘mu’ koan is put this way: a student asked the Great Master Zhaozhou, “does a dog have Buddha nature?” Zhaozhou replied, “Mu.”

 So, the koan can be understood as asking about the meaning of life, the purpose of life, about attachments and possession, it asks about the vastness of life, and offers to teach about how to live and how to love. For an ultra short story, it holds great depths of potential if we are willing to plumb the depths that await us.

 I thought I had been doing some plumbing of the ‘mu’ koan. I thought about it in connection with the adage: if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. That meaning that if you think you have found enlightenment outside yourself, you are quite mistaken, and so end that delusion. Does a dog have Buddha nature? No because it is not a thing to be had. Buddha nature is more about being than having. I thought all these things as I plumbed the ‘mu’ koan. I thought I was plumbing a bit. And then Ludis showed me that I had not even picked up the wrench!

 When I finally saw the connection, we both sat and laughed for a good long while. Ludis bought the sweatshirt. I left without mu.