a belfry tale

Friars are not materialistic people; they live solely on the charity of others.  It’s not an easy life, and only a humble man will stick with it for many years.  This is the story of Friars Gabe and Francis. They joined the order of the Carmelites at a young age, wanting to get away from the fast pace of the world. They wanted time to contemplate life and eternity. And so, together the two friends joined this community of peaceful men.

They lived for many pleasant years, shared nightly thoughtful discussions with equally poor friends. And they spent countless hours in silence. But time brings changes, as it always will, and poverty and quietude proved too much for many of their companions. So at the ages of 62 and 63, Friar Gabe and Friar Francis found themselves alone in their friary. Their own small house seemed cavernous now that it was shared by only two men. Eventually they moved their sleeping rolls to the small room on the north side of the chapel.
The two friars shared a love for two things: their gardens and the chapel. When they weren’t bound to their religious duties, these were the two places that Gabe and Francis were the most likely to be found. But even to the peaceful, trouble is bound to come… eventually.
For Francis and Gabe, trouble came in the form of their crumbling belfry. Every time one of them pulled the rope of the bell, calling people to prayer, he said a fervent prayer himself, hoping that the bell would not come crashing down upon him.  Obviously something had to be done. In the old days, when the place was swarming with men, it wouldn’t have been such a problem. Now, there were just the two of them, starting to get up in years, and with barely enough money for materials, much less enough to pay skilled laborers. The two friars did their best to let people in the town know of their plight. They set up collection boxes and managed to raise a small amount to put towards a new belfry. But it wasn’t enough.
Finally, they realized that the time had come for them to give up their mendicant way of living. For the first time in almost twenty years, they were going to have to look for work. And they tried. And tried. And tired of trying.
In years past, they had realized that the two of them had complementary talents. Friar Gabe excelled at producing the most beautiful flowers in town, and Friar Francis had the gift of making lovely arrangements that the brothers used to deliver to the sick and suffering. When the job search proved futile, they decided to put their gifts to work – they opened a florist shop.
From day one, the business was surprisingly successful. Townspeople who had admired the thriving gardens at the friary could now purchase their own bouquets on the slightest whim. Well, it probably helped that these men who had lived so long on the goodwill of others attached a miniscule price to each arrangement. People in the town loved to come and do business with these kind friars.
But there was one person in town who was not so excited about this new florist shop. That, naturally, would be the owner of the previously existing florist shop – the shop with the original title of “Pete’s Flowers.” Now Pete was not a bad man. He was a decent guy with a family to support. He did his job and did it well, but it didn’t take him long to notice that his customers were coming in less and less frequently. He lowered prices. He offered special deals. He posted advertising flyers around town. He lowered prices again. But it wasn’t enough.
Finally he resorted, almost, to threats. He paid a visit to the friars and pled with them to raise their prices, so he could make enough money to support his family. But Francis and Gabe couldn’t come to terms with putting high prices on something that had cost them nothing. They refused.
He sent his wife, surrounded by their 6 young children, and she begged the two men to have mercy on her family. They felt pity for the family, and gave them some of their hard-earned money.
It wasn’t what Pete had in mind.
Next, he got his next door neighbor, who had once spent a year at the friary, to go and have a talk with Gabe and Francis. Surely he could talk them into shutting down their business and going back to their normal way of life. But they had come to love selling flowers. They liked the interaction with the people, they said.
They lived for many pleasant years, sharing nightly thoughtful discussions with equally poor friends. And they spent countless hours in silence. But time brings changes, as it always will, and poverty and quietude proved too much for many of their companions. So at the ages of 67 and 69, Friar Gabe and Friar Francis found themselves alone in their friary. Their own small house seemed cavernous now that it was shared by only two men. Eventually they moved their sleeping rolls to the small room on the north side of the chapel.
The two friars shared a love for two things: their gardens and the chapel. When they weren’t bound to their religious duties, these were the two places that Gabe and Francis were the most likely to be found. But even to the peaceful, trouble is bound to come… eventually.
For Francis and Gabe, trouble came in the form of their crumbling belfry. Every time one of them pulled the rope of the bell, calling people to prayer, he said a fervent prayer himself, hoping that the bell would not come crashing down upon him.  Obviously something had to be done. In the old days, when the place was swarming with men, it wouldn’t have been such a problem.
Now, there were just the two of them, starting to get up in years, and with barely enough money for materials, much less enough to pay skilled laborers. The two friars did their best to let people in the town know of their plight. They set up collection boxes and managed to raise a small amount to put towards a new belfry. But it wasn’t enough.
Finally, they realized that the time had come for them to give up their mendicant way of living. For the first time in almost twenty years, they were going to have to look for work. And so they tried. And tried. And tired of trying.
In years past, they had realized that the two of them had complementary talents. Friar Gabe excelled at producing the most beautiful flowers in town, and Friar Francis had the gift of making lovely arrangements that the brothers used to deliver to the sick and suffering. When the job search proved futile, they decided to put their gifts to work – they opened a florist shop.
From day one, the business was surprisingly successful. Townspeople who had admired the thriving gardens at the friary could now purchase their own bouquets on the slightest whim. It probably helped that these men who had lived so long on the goodwill of others attached a miniscule price to each arrangement. People in the town loved to come and do business with these kind friars.
But there was one person in town who was not so excited about this new florist shop. That, naturally, would be the owner of the previously existing florist shop – the shop with the oh-so-original title of “Pete’s Flowers.” Now Pete was not a bad man. He was a decent guy with a family to support. He did his job and did it well, but it didn’t take him long to notice that his customers were coming in less and less frequently. He lowered prices. He offered special deals. He posted advertising flyers around town. He lowered prices again. But it wasn’t enough.
Finally he resorted, almost, to threats. He paid a visit to the friars and pled with them to raise their prices, so he could make enough money to support his family. But Francis and Gabe couldn’t come to terms with putting high prices on something that had cost them nothing. They refused.
He sent his wife, surrounded by their 6 young children, and she begged the two men to have mercy on her family. They felt pity for the family, and gave them some of their hard-earned money.
It wasn’t what Pete had in mind.
His next step was to ask his next door neighbor, who had once spent a year at the friary, to go and have a talk with Gabe and Francis. Surely he could talk them into shutting down their business and going back to their normal way of life. The neighbor obligingly tried his best to reason with the friars. But they had come to love selling flowers. They liked the interaction with the people, they said.
Pete went back again and again, trying to talk sense into these foolish men who had no business sense and were ruining his life. He sent others to talk to them – anyone who might have a chance of getting the point across. They just didn’t get it. The poor guy tried every line, every angle, every trick he could think of, and nothing worked. He was losing money fast, and feeling desperate.
And you know what desperate times call for… desperate measures. Pete finally went out and found the one guy in town that he’d spent most of his life avoiding: Hugh. Hugh was the biggest, the baddest, the meanest thug imaginable. He’d step on your little puppy and then throw it at your sweet grandma without ever batting an eye. He was too mean even to have a sidekick. Nobody wanted to hang around with Hugh.
And Pete hired him to put those two friars out of business.
Now, no one knows what happened at the friary that evening when Hugh stopped by to pay a visit. The details of that night will most likely be taken to the grave. But the next morning, Francis and Gabe set all of their cut flowers on a table outside the door with a sign announcing “FREE” and hung a “CLOSED” sign on the door. They never sold another flower. The next summer their flower gardens were not so lush. Several years later, they were practically nonexistent. And eventually, the town forgot that there ever were two such talented lovers of flowers in its midst.
Pete’s business, however, flourished. As his sons grew into men, he was able to expand and stock shops in several neighboring towns.
The friars never rebuilt the belfry. It eventually crumbled completely. Francis was injured only slightly when the bell fell.
And since this story has such a sad ending, it should come with a moral – which would have to be:
“Hugh, and only Hugh, can prevent florist friars.”

2 Responses to a belfry tale

  1. Hollie Stacy says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!I love it!! That was great! Did you write that???

    Like

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