Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Weekend at the Abbey

Jud, Kat and I spent the weekend at Collegeville, MN and got in on two wonderful treats. First of all, Jud and his co-facilitator, Laura Kinkead, did a very thought-provoking retreat called "Are You Living The Life That Wants To Live In You?" Jud and Laura both studied under Parker Palmer, a Quaker writer and teacher, and learned his techniques of "deep listening" and the technique he calls a Clearness Committee. In this process, the focus person picks a problem and their committee members (three or four people) must only ask problems which are "open and honest"...basicially, you can only ask any question in which you are not sure of the answer and it can not be a "leading question." You meet for several hours over this issue. I was really deeply touched by the way in which the focus person is able to figure out their own answers with this kind of support. It was also the first time I have seen Kat in this kind of professional situation since she started her social work program and she did me proud! Always interesting to see them become adults. Jud also did a great job. It was interesting how many people came simply because he was leading it.

We then got in on a second treat. The monks at this Abbey are the first group in five hundred years to do the Bible in calligraphy and illumination and we got a special viewing.  Here is a site that will tell you more about it. It does a better job than I would!

We came in a little late and the attitude was one of reverence. Here is a picture of me looking at one the the pages. Kat, of course, took all the pictures. 

The room was darkened, which really made all of the illuminated pages stand out. This was one of my favorite pages, "And The Word Became Flesh." It doesn't begin to capture the beauty of the work but you can get the idea.

This was another which is an abstract picture of the loaves and fishes. This picture, like many in this Bible, has "spider-web"shaped forms at the edges, which were influenced by pictures of nebulae. 

I was surprised how modern the pictures were, but they used ancient methods of grinding minerals, including lapus lazuli, to make the pigments and used various methodolofy to gild the pictures in real gold. 

Nice weekend. A wonderful group. Beautiful surroundings. A room on the lake. Great homemade food. Very hard beds. In that way, I would not make a happy monk. All else was terrific!


  1. CSB/SJU is my alma mater! And I absolutely love the St. John's bible. It's beautiful. Glad you guys had a fantastic weekend!

  2. What a cool place. An awesome experience.


  3. Oh, Suz! what a fabulous weekend. The pictures are indescribable. It is truly the Word coming out through their art. It is good for me to see today. I am struggling with a collage in the worst way!! I got so frustrated, I cleaned out a drawer just to have some sort of control. Now all I want to do is go to Goodwill instead of focusing.....thank you for sharing the beauty!

  4. That is really fascinating. So incredible that they are keeping this art alive.