The Liesborn Prayer Wheel

This pen-and-ink drawing was found on the inside of a medieval Gospel book. The book dates from 980, when it was commissioned for a well-to-do convent in Germany. The drawing is probably not original – it seems to have been added later. It reminds me of a labyrinth but really it’s more like a puzzle or […]

Ten Ways To Be Silent

If you’re looking for a way to slow down during Holy Week, I recommend trying a little silence. You only need 3-10 minutes – even 30 seconds. But what do you do with any amount of silence? Just sit there? When I had the chance to stay at a hermitage on my sabbatical last fall, […]

Becoming an Oblate

I’ve spent the last year in formation to become a Benedictine oblate, at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, Wisconsin. An oblate is someone who promises to follow a monastic rule in their life in the world, while staying in relationship with a particular monastery. Oblates don’t follow a rule – in this case the Rule […]

Atchison Blue

I reviewed this new book for The Engelwood Review of Books online edition. Judy Valente is a TV producer and poet whose life is changed when she begins visiting a Benedictine women’s monastery in Atchison, Kansas. I’ve found a lot of nurture with Benedictines myself, and it was fun to read and review this book. […]

My Favorite Monastery

I’ve been visiting monasteries since I was in college. This is my favorite – Holy Wisdom, in Madison, Wisconsin. The land is sort of magical — one of those places where “the veil is thin.” The rooms and buildings have a spare and open aesthetic. The sisters are brainy, sing their prayers in inclusive language three […]

St. Benedict Was A Suburbanite

The patron saint of my church is St. Benedict, who lived in Italy in the 6th century. He was one of the first people to organize a monastery that wasn’t eccentric or extreme. His monks ate three meals a day, slept in beds, and, although they went to church nine (!) times a day and […]

Monastic adventures

I love monasteries. I’ve been visiting them since my college days. I spent a half day at St. Procopius in Lisle today, with three dear friends. The building is all smooth lines – brick, glass, and concrete. I love modern architecture in a monastery: feels like there’s less of the past, dragging the community backward. Spiritually, […]