Before I came to work at Holy Wisdom Monastery, or Saint Benedict Center, as it was called then, I was employed by the Archdiocese of Chicago Archives. For seven years I toiled in a second-story room that was my office, my assistant’s office, the reading room, the conference room, site of our reference library and off times the lunch room. There were two windows, neither of which opened, with a view of the traffic below.
Today I can look out of three windows—five actually, if I were a tad bit taller than my present five foot nothing—onto native prairie. I can open these windows and listen to bird song and insects droning and the bells peeling. Don’t misunderstand. I don’t spend every working minute staring out of the window. Enjoyable as it might be, but I’d never get anything done.
The ideas of hospitality and care for the earth take on a whole new meaning when I take a break from my work and listen to the cry of a sand hill crane or watch a blue jay perched on a chair outside the library. I’ve found myself hurrying through lunch so I can take a walk down to the observatory deck and look out onto Lost Lake. Possibly not good for my digestion, but the peace and calm and connection to the land I feel standing there with the sun on my shoulder and the breeze stirring the grass is worth it.
I’m pretty sure my co-workers, and the guests who come to Holy Wisdom Monastery, whether for a day program or a week-long retreat, would agree with me.
For those days when I can only look out of the window, watch the lightning play across the darkened sky and listen to the rain bounce off the window panes, there is always a book or a journal in the library calling me to be inspired, offering me another view through a different window into ecospirituality, Benedictine monasticism or land conservation.
Exercise for the body, refreshment of the soul and expansion of the mind. Not many places offer so much. The grounds are always open to serious nature seekers and the library welcomes visitors during the week. I recommend the views.
For more information about the library at Holy Wisdom Monastery contact Nancy at 608-836-1631 x105.