In June of 2016, I led a writing marathon during a Writing Retreat hosted by the Prairie Lands Writing Project, held at a beautiful Benedictine monastery in Conception, Missouri. We launched from the conference room, then made our way to write in the beautiful Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. When I had asked one of the monks in charge of guest conferences if it would ok for us to write there, he said, “I assume your writing will be… uplifting?”
“Yes,” I told him. “Absolutely.”
I don’t actually know what everyone wrote in that huge, ornate space that day, but I do know that it was an uplifting experience to be there in the good, contemplative company of fellow writers.
9:25 a.m. Basilica of the Immaculate Conception,
Benedictines are devoted to the spirit of hospitality, and we certainly feel it here. All around us. Simple. Humble. Gentle. Warm.
Latin words above me. Soothing stone below me.
I feel somewhat less than immaculate this morning. My hair is frizzy, my legs unshaven in the ultra-tiny shower stall. Coffee aftertaste is still coating my tongue.
My spirit feels relatively clean, however. My life has been a journey of self-acceptance, self-knowledge, and self-forgiveness.
Wisdom of years, hard-won, to know that I’m not to blame for unwise choices—entanglements and mismatches of souls and paths.
I tried. I learned.
It is fine. It is good.
A young monk sits at the organ, his head bowed, the light hovering above the music stand. A displaced halo, it crowns the notes rather than his head.
10:00 a.m. A picnic table in view of the wind turbines
arc and arc and arc
over the cottonwoods.
Blade shadows slice
across crop rows below.
Clover and daylilies
Watch with us
In the stands above the soccer fields.
Behind us, the HVAC system roars.
Above it, birds sing,