Judith Valente (author); ATCHISON BLUE; Ave Maria Press (Nonfiction: Religion) 15.95 ISBN: 9781933495583
Byline: Thomas H. Brennan
Judith Valente's story is reminiscent of the Japanese proverb that encourages us to "fall seven times, stand up eight."
What is it about the mystery of monasteries that draws men and women with a suitcase full of questions to their doors? In her superbly written and probing memoir, Atchison Blue, Judith Valente answers that it is finding peace through conversatio morum, what the Benedictines call the conversion of life.
Valente is one of those women who worked too much and thought too little. As a Chicago television producer and Wall Street Journal writer, Valente admits, "What I lacked in my own life were moments of stillness and silence." She finds herself, literally and figuratively, at a Benedictine monastery in Kansas -- Mount St. Scholastica, where in true Christian fashion she discovers she is getting more than she is giving. The book title refers to the monastery's blue stained-glass windows bleached by the Kansas sun and wind.
Valente admits she embodied the driven woman who relentlessly pursued her professional objectives. She acknowledges her naA[macron]vetA[c] in her second marriage as the rejected stepmother. During her extended stays at the monastery, she begins to understand the more important elements of human life.
Valente presents a series of conversations with several of the sisters who live at the monastery, which lead her slowly to achieving her own...