Wednesday, July 6, 2011
St. Peter's Abbey
I hadn't quite gotten into the spirit of St. Peter's Abbey in Muenster. There's construction going on here, and because the Abbey is a working farm, you hear tractors and other heavy equipment going back and forth during the day. I missed the loons and the deer from Emma Lake--though perhaps not the bears. I missed the profound enveloping peace of the boreal forest.
I did immediately appreciate two elements of being at the Abbey. First, the simplicity of the rooms. These writers' retreats are like playing Thoreau for a week or two, whose motto was "Simplify! Simplify!" Even if you feel that you've brought an awful lot of stuff, once you get it into a room you realize how little you really need. That's liberating,
You can also feel the monastic discipline of years of nuns and writers radiating from the walls of the small nunnery where they house us. The silence on a summer afternoon (it's quiet in the building anyway; outside a truck is backing up) is a constant reminder to focus. Even if that means staring at a paragraph for an hour, fiddling with language, trying to get it to articulate your vision of the human experience and to speak to your hypothetical reader, you are riveted by the sense of purpose and focus that infuses this place and almost breathes here.
You can learn about Jim's seed project at
at 9:42 AM