One of the curious things about living in a friary while still trying to learn the local language is that you don't really get to know the other brothers. Unless you somehow know of them on paper or by office or reputation, the language barrier prevents or at least renders difficult some of the ordinary mechanisms of acquaintance.
It's not a bad thing, but just is. It is, however, an interesting thing. My not knowing what I might have known by now about some of the brothers around me reminds me of the irreducible mystery that other people always are, and leaves me more attentive and grateful for what I do perceive.
For example, one of the friars I live with is an Indonesian, about the same age as me in religion. His project in life right now seems to be the study of Arabic. Beyond that, I hardly know a thing about him, apart from the diligence, kindness, and devotion I observe.
One thing I have noticed, however, is that he seems to have always the same song in his head, as evidenced by the hum that can be heard from time to time in the hallway or while we are doing the dishes after meals. It is the lovely, almost haunting In the Lord I'll be ever Thankful from Taizé:
It touches my heart in a way; very early in my Christian journey I had the song on a Taizé tape to which I listened often. As I start to think of my twentieth anniversary of baptism coming up next month and all the twists and turns, amazing graces and blind alleys, the few graces to which I have surrendered and the many sins by which I have clung to my misery, I'm grateful for such an apparently little thing that arrives to remind me of the unity of the economies of grace and the gentle persistence of the love of God.