It was two years ago last month that the sisters and coworkers at Holy Wisdom Monastery began to move into the new, ‘green’ building. I can still remember the first time I visited this building. It was for my job interview, and I received a tour later that day. I was in awe with all the natural light, the pristine walls with feminine curves, and all the places to gather for socializing and living out the sisters’ call to hospitality. I was quite pleased when they called back to offer me the job!
One of the reasons I enjoy coordinating and providing tours at the monastery is that it reminds me of the wonder I felt the first time I set foot in this building. A lot of people that come on our tours have never been to a monastery before. Many that have been to a monastery, picture a pre-1960s building with lots of 10×10 bedrooms with tiny sinks in them.
Holy Wisdom Monastery, with its 3,000 pound baptismal font that was quarried in Cold Springs, Minnesota, surrounded by bamboo floor, puts people in a state of amazement.
In just this calendar year, we have had some remarkable guests take tours here, including:
- school groups, including a class from Middleton High School learning about environmental design, and a group of 84 fifth through eighth graders from the Belmont School District;
- college students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison Area Technical College, Edgewood College, and Cardinal Stritch University;
- church groups from a variety of denominations, including Lutheran (ELCA) and Greek Orthodox;
- secular groups such as members of the Madison Friends of International Students and residents at the Oakwood Village retirement community;
- elected officials, including US Rep. Tammy Baldwin, State Sen. Mark Miller, State Reps. Sondy Pope-Roberts and Kelda Helen Roys, and a staff member of US Sen. Ron Johnson’s office;
- and many more groups and individuals!
One of the best parts about giving tours is that it allows for an environment where people can ask questions. In general, participants start by asking questions about some of the features of the ‘green’ building. But eventually, the participants start to ask questions about the sisters’ ecumenical community, what their history is, what their theology is, and what sets this community apart from other monastic communities. Many times, we end up talking more theology than construction or engineering. And this is one of the blessings of offering tours at Holy Wisdom Monastery!
Holy Wisdom Monastery offers monthly scheduled tours, and also makes accommodations for groups. Self-guided tours are also an option. To learn more about tours at Holy Wisdom Monastery, visit this page on our website.
Thanks for this post, Mike! I love the breadth of backgrounds of tour participants and the variety of reasons they come to find out more. Yet, how cool that people’s tour experiences at HW often lead to conversations of a spiritual nature. It speaks volumes as to what people are, at least, curious about and, for many, the deep attraction of the Spirit. It also says a lot about the hospitality and openness to questions that the tour guides offer to visitors. Such a ministry you all provide to sharing this place to a wider audience!