Earlier this evening, I was pulled away from listening to the manager of the hotel, Ross, telling us about a recent Orlando vacation, when I heard the bells at Our Lady of Lourdes, just across the river in St. Anthony Main, chiming the hour. I was struck by the calm that comes after such a sound, and I immediately thought back to my very first encounter with Kathleen Norris: The Cloister Walk.
The Cloister Walk was very popular when it first came out, but I had no use for such things until several years later. Now, reading about this woman from Dakota (via Hawaii) spending time experiencing the liturgy of the hours while living with Benedictine monks seems so beautiful and helpful. I’m not sure I have the discipline for such an endeavor, but there’s something in me that wants to try.
In a few minutes the chimes will sound again, and I will find calm after the last echo of the bell, just as I always find calm in the middle of a good book.
I originally read DAKOTA years ago, just after I’d left South Dakota – I think. I remember thinking that it helped me to understand these prairie women, who can talk about jello salads and cattle with equal ease, who can pluck their own geese, and mix up homemade acne remedies without a thought. It helped me to understand my father-in-law, and to see that church communities are so tight night, in South Dakota, at least, in part because when your nearest neighbor is miles away, it’s comforting to know you have a bond with someone, even if that bond isn’t having lunch once a week, but singing hymns together each Sunday.
Norris’s work is non-fiction, and the language isn’t difficult, but the concepts are almost profound.
I think anyone moving to the prairie from a major city should be handed this book when they get their new driver’s license.
I’m away from home on a trip to a funeral. While we are heading home (finally) in the morning, and I haven’t really had much time to do any reading, there are books that are resonating with me as I take this journey.
One of them is Firstlight by Sue Monk Kidd.
It’s a series of essays on spirituality, and on writing – sort of a daily multivitamin in literary form. Some of it is funny, some poignant, some tender, some just true. I’ve never been the most spiritual person, or at least, not the most religious but this book soothes me.
I’ve got it with me on this trip, but my mind hasn’t had the focus to read.