Luke was silent a moment, sipping his drink, then he spoke with a thoughtful wrinkle between his brows. “I wouldn’t say that I prefer celibacy. I don’t know many people who do. It’s a sacrifice, like so many of the other sacrifices we both make to be here. Like being separated from our families, or catching malaria,” he smiled, “or having my truck break down every time I come into town and trying to repair it from my tool kit in the back. This time it was just a flat tire, but once I was stranded on the side of the mountain with an overheated engine for two hours before another vehicle came along and rescued me.”
The conversation moved on then to the trials of operating a motor vehicle in rugged mountainous terrain, but it was the first part of their exchange that Meg recalled off and on throughout the day, and in greater detail before she fell asleep that night. It was the first time they had spoken openly of the question that had recurred to her many times in her acquaintance with Brother Luke. What would make any man, and Luke in particular, take vows of celibacy? In his case at least, it didn’t appear to be an aversion to women. She admired his single-minded devotion to God, if that was his true motivation. She was devoted to God too, of course, but not in the same way— at least, not single-mindedly. Luke probably thought of her as a nun, a sort of Protestant nun, and he would be shocked if he guessed what unspiritual ideas sometimes crossed her mind. Did he guess? She hoped she had not given herself away in her remarks today.