Monday, February 25, 2008

The "Febs"

We've got the "Febs" here in Erie. It's that "How long is winter going to last?" question; that "We've just passed 70" of snow!" shock; that "If I don't see trees with leaves on them, tulips and crocuses blooming, and robins building nests soon, I'm going to scream!" feeling.

But hope is just around the corner, in something that is coming in March--which is this Saturday. One of our members, Mary Lou Kownacki, has a new book, A Monk in the Inner City, being published this week from Orbis Books (Maryknoll). It is a collection of 80 short essays gathered from Mary Lou's columns, articles and new reflections on her love for the poor, especially those in and around the northeast side of Erie--a neighborhood now labeled "inner-city."

Her last book, Between Two Souls: Conversations with Ryoken, was a great seller for Eerdmans Publishers. Any poetry book that sells at all is considered a success and hers sold in the thousands.

Here are some of Thomas Moore's thoughts on monasteries and their neighbors. They fit well with A Monk in the Inner City:

"The life of the monk seen through rough sentimental eyes can be easily misunderstood. It's a tough life, in which sensitivity to interior thoughts and feelings are intense....In modern life it may appear that real work is located in the heroics of surviving and succeeding in the world. For the monk the challenge is in nonheroic intimacy with oneself, others, and the world.

"The monk's occupation is soul work. In religious community I was always told that the mere presence of a priory in a neighborhood was a contribution to the area. If we do not have monks in our midst, we might not know of this soul-centered approach to life that the monks model, teach, and demonstrate. Our task is to discover in the monks how to bring soul closer to the center of a generally secular life and make the switch from heroics to intimacy."