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Atchison Blue: A Search for Silence, a Spiritual Home, and a Living Faith Paperback – September 9, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
Valente (Twenty Poems to Nourish Your Soul) is a rara avis—a poet and journalist. Her spiritual memoir is happily rooted in the heartland: Atchison, Kans., the city that Mount St. Scholastica, a community of Benedictine nuns, has called home since 1863. Valente goes to Mount St. Scholastica to lead a workshop on poetry, and then returns, again and again. The hospitable Midwest community of women religious is also, for Valente, a crossroads for her own spiritual life, a place for self-confrontation and growing awareness. The rhythms of life and liturgy and the quietly remarkable residents of Mount St. Scholastica create spiritual openings for the author. Women religious live, pray, and die in their community, affording Valente opportunities to face her own fears, resentments, and hopes. Her journalistic witness of the community of women is also a witness of moving faith. This honest and deeply reflective book, which implicitly critiques the myths of success by which so many live and are haunted, deserves a wide audience. Agent: Michele Rubin, Writers House. (Sept.)
An award-winning PBS religion journalist discovers the errors of her hard-driving ways while taking up a quest to discover inner peace with the Benedictine Sisters at their retreat, Mount St. Scholastica monastery, in Atchison, Kansas. Valente admits to struggling with intense anger that at times has alienated her from family members. During her quest to cultivate tolerance and foster tools for connecting with others, she joyfully encounters an assortment of endearing characters: one nun who fearlessly drives off to a hair appointment despite tornado warnings, others who shave the wax droplets from candles to keep their sanctuary in perfect sacred order, several who make communion wine, and a nun well into her nineties who refuses to contemplate death and thinks only of living. This sometimes painfully honest and well-written account details the numerous insights to be gained by taking time to learn essential lessons of unconditional love and acceptance. --Susan DeGrane
Top customer reviews
Thanks to Judith Valente for not just bringing back such strong and deep memories...but for also probing Benedictine life (I've never forgotten "Ora et Labora"), death, and spiritual life.
And what a juxtaposition...today I watched this past Sunday's edition of Religion and Ethics Weekly. Valente interviewed poet Christian Wiman whose book "My Bright Abyss" I'm reading at the same time as "Atchison Blue"...coincidence? No...definitely synchronicity...what a wonderful week of reading!
I will be re-reading both books PRN...
Valente surely took her own advice and linked many holy thoughts when writing "Atchison Blue."
Her chapter-essays on spiritual themes prick hearts and souls of all. We've been there. Valente faces her own demons-- her fear of death and silence, her disappointments in personal relationships. All this within a community of compassion and welcome. Hers was a lived tutorial with the Benedictine sisters as her mentors.
I, too, was taught by these sisters in an academic setting, and they are still teaching me by their hospitality, justice, and kindness. I'm always a better person after interacting with them and experiencing the sacredness of their presence and their space.
I will savor a second reading and hope for a sequel.
Most recent customer reviews
The, read it again, for good measure.
Small doses followed by some thinking and absorbing have been wise approach thus far.