Monday, September 17, 2007

Cloister Walk

Cloister walks are common, especially in the monasteries of Europe. I've seen some where a part of the monastery is built as a quadrangle with an open middle area of green space or garden. All around the perimeter of this garden is a cloister walk, covered but open-aired and often highlighted by archways. Perhaps in the middle ages the monks and nuns walked this path for meditation or a moment of solitude. Here's a sample.

With our chapel renovation this past year we gained a type of cloister walk. It used to be just a windowless hallway from the chapel to the dining room. But, it was renovated as an extension of the chapel, same walls, ceiling, and flooring. It also now has five tall, narrow windows enabling the passersby to look out into our inner courtyard garden. It has a lot of the cloister walk characteristics.

One of our own special additions is a hummingbird feeder on the second window. We have only ruby-throated hummingbirds in our part of the country, but we have a lot of them and when they are migrating north or back south to Mexico, the feeder can be drained every 2-3 days. A local birding expert reminded us to keep our feeders filled throughout September. Although most of the hummers have passed through, there are always stragglers she noted!

Finally, if you've never read Kathleen Norris's best seller, Cloister Walk, you should. She's a first-rate poet and her reflections on her two years with the Benedictine monks and sisters in Minnesota, are beautiful---along with being a pretty realistic look into contemporary Benedictine communities in the US.