Four years after reading Thomas Merton's autobiography, The Seven Story Mountain, I found myself living six miles away from the same abbey where---before his death---he had his stability. There was no Oblate program, but my family and I were invited to participate in Cistercian ora et labora, spiritual direction, and friendship. It transformed our lives, and those who joined us, in a way I can't imagine otherwise. But the center only held for 10 years, then we moved on in pain and confusion. Our soul work had just begun. Speaking for myself, it was so worth it.
My Favorite Books
1) The New Testament
2) Shakespeare's Plays
Books I've Been Meaning to Read...
1) Bamboula! : The Life and Times of Lous Moreau Gottshalk
2) Hebrews of the Portuguese Nation : Conversos and Community in Early Modern Amsterdam
It's 1973 when Rosalie Wolfe and her daughter Meadow leave Cincinnati and head to rural Kentucky where Rosalie hopes to "find" the God she feels abandoned by. Both mother and daughter are excited by their God-seeking adventure in different ways and romanticize being poor like the "poor people" God is known to love.
Blacktime Song by Rosalie Wolfe is a first novel more complex in design than its simple, religious plot would suggest. Don't beware, but be aware! The novel's name on the book's cover is Mitcham's name for HER novel, while a similar title on the Contents page is the character Rosalie's name for HER novel about someone she calls Hannah Wolfe; a voice within a voice within Mitcham's voice. On the final page, Mark Twain checks in from the Dead with an Afterword; will wonders never cease?
Praise for Blacktime Song by Rosalie Wolfe
"This is unquestionably a fine work for the reader interested in the post-modern novel, presenting a single mother and her six-year-old fairy child, who strive to forge a family while leading lives infused with a strong current of spiritual mysticism." --Levi S. Peterson, author of The Backslider
"One of the more unusual and funny post-modern farcical novels I have ever read and wondered about. Its pathos surprises you." --Rev. Perry C. Bramlett, founder of C.S. Lewis for the Local Church - Interstate Ministries.
"Blacktime Song by Rosalie Wolfe, with its concerns of spiritual seeking and narrative truth, is strange but it's wondrous too, full of rich pleasures. First, it is gorgeously written, sentence by sentence, all its narrative voices and exchanges of dialogue pitch-perfect, elegant and quirky, utterly absorbing. ....This is a truly original and authentic novel, the real thing, imagined from the depth of a writer's being." - Valerie Sayers, novelist (see full review here)
"A monk, he said, is a man who is truly searching for God. My husband and I wanted to find a way of life capable of testing the truth of our desire. We longed to 'be made worthy of the promises of Christ,' but we were finding it difficult, in our ordinary circumstances, to grapple with the side of ourselves that wasn't truly searching for God."
"Not infrequently I am asked, 'But what do you do with yourself?' 'Not much,' I usually reply and wonder if I should mention how many hours it all takes. Next time I'll look my visitor right in the eye and say, 'I work at being peaceful' or 'I'm studying how to be content.' "
Praise for An Accidental Monk
"A wife, a mother, an 'accidental monk' -- such is Marylee Mitcham. A delicate pattern woven with strong threads -- such is her book.
"It speaks of an unusual vocation ... of lives uncluttered, prayerful, fully-lived. Marylee reflects on the process of coming to terms with the daily experiences of work, of human relationships, of personal spiritual growth.... Her life as well as her language remain supple, graceful, open to the possibilities of each moment. As Blaise Pascal put it some 300 years ago, there is a great pleasure when one begins to read an author and discovers a man. There is an equal joy when one discovers a warm, loving, and spiritually alive woman.
--Catherine de Vinck
Published in 1976 by St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1615 Republic St., Cincinnati, OH 45210