Friday, July 18, 2014

Shreds of dreams

I'm staying at the apartments at the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Culture Research on the grounds of St. John's Abbey this week.  The view from my back patio is gorgeous, gnarled branches, ripples fanning out over the surface of the lake.  The sound scape is equally enrapturing. Ravens caw — appropriately enough for a Benedictine abbey — leaves shiver in the wind, trees shift and groan, fat horseflies thwok against my hat.  And the abbey bells call out the hours and the Hours.

We are workshopping each other's writing each afternoon, and my piece is early in the rotation. I've never done this before, and while I didn't think I was anxious, my unconscious clearly did. The first night here I had dreams of people coming in to my apartment, which was filled with shredded white tissues.  I have no trouble reading that one, thank you.

For forty years, the apartments at the Institute have sheltered scholars and their writing.  The walls of the abbey have clearly absorbed a half-century of prayer, which begs the question, how much writing anxiety have the walls of these rooms seen?

The monks leave out a brochure to help you navigate the liturgies with "a minimum amount of anxiety."  Should there be something similar in each apartment to help with writer's block and scholarly anxieties?  Perhaps the bowl of chocolate and fruit that the incredible staff keeps stocked for us, is balm enough.


  1. Lovely! I think these men and women have truly found the Source for hospitality.

  2. And then God takes the shreds and restores them, beautifully. With your hand, your heart, your intellect. It is quite wonderful if you ask me!

  3. How comforting of them to acknowledge that the Liturgy can bring anxiety.