Thursday, January 04, 2007

Monastary & Writing

I'm sitting in a windowed room at Mt. Calvary Monastary in Santa Barbara, CA. It's on a hill overlooking the city and now I can see the lights not only of the city but of ships on the ocean. Santa Barbara faces the south which means you can see the sun rise and set over the ocean from this location. That is a metaphor for life at the monastary and for being at this writer's workshop.

Nora Gallagher, author of Things Seen and Unseen and Practicing Resurrection, and Barbara Brown Taylor, author of Leaving Church, are the guides for the week. Sponsored by the Louisville Institute and funded by a Lily Grant, the workshop has gathered 20 published writers for a focus on spiritual writing. I feel privileged to have been invited and humbled by my collegues.

Several of the attendees have published multiple volumes, some in their academic field, other memoirs and journalistic pieces. The intent is to provide writer's with an opportunity to enhance the depth of their writing by being able to enact in a writer's colony setting.

The monastary is Benedictine and Anglican. The monks pray the hours, Lauds, Noon Day, Vespers and Compline, inviting their guests to join them at each worship experience. They operate the monastary as a retreat house. They grow most of their own vegetables, provide a large library, sell books and coffee.

Each day we are given large blocks of time to write. We review each others work and have consultations with our two leaders. Both offer daily sessions intended to connect us with our writing. Getting lost in one's writing is easy. This is a gift. I intend to make well use of the lessons learned.

As the week proceeds I will post some of the comments and ideas that Gallagher and Brown are sharing with us.

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