Sunday, November 22, 2015

Still Singing in the City

A generous friend 'just could not stand waiting' until Christmas to send me a particular gift. So before Advent has even begun, I have received a modern reprint of an 1894 book. It's a hefty paperback the size of a large textbook, and is a historical account of the second oldest convent for nuns in the United States. Which sounds rather dry, I know, but the opening chapter - to me - is anything but that. Perhaps because I've spent time in this semi-cloistered monastery, I was glued from the very first sentence. The introductory chapters share a visit the authors made to the monastery in the then-dashingly-modern 1890s. I found the descriptions so accurate and timeless that reading them was like visiting the buildings and grounds this very day.

The monastery, situated in the bustling Georgetown suburb of Washington DC, is one I have written of here before. Its location in a busy city strikes me as the perfect analogy of the life of a cloistered heart. You can find some of my own impressions at An Ideal Set Up and Singing in the City.

I am writing this post primarily so I can link back to it, because I'd like to use snippets from the book as jumping off points for further reflections on the inner cloister.

The book is A Story of Courage: Annals of the Georgetown Convent of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary by George Parsons Lathrop and Rose Hawthorne Lathrop (yes, THAT Rose Hawthorne Lathrop - we can read about her by clicking here). Publication date: 1894. My edition is from Nabu Public Domain Reprints, which states: 'You may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.'

I know we are heading into a busy season, but like my generous book-giving friend, I just cannot stand waiting! So I hope to begin this next little journey into heart-cloister within a day or two....

'The time of year at which we first saw the convent was perhaps not unfitting for our first impressions; since the December leaflessness, the unornamented aspect of the ground and the stone walls, whose vines were mere shadows, typified the stern simplicity of the life....'

Photo: Cloister garden, Georgetown Visitation Monastery, Washington DC, by Nancy Shuman, 1992

This begins a 'series' of posts on A Story of Courage. To continue in chronological order, click this line.


  1. OHHHH! How WONDERFUL for you! Can't wait to hear of the treasures! What a nice friend you have!!

  2. Oh, what delicious first lines! I wish I had friends like yours!!

    But I love your little brook of words too....journey into cloister heart. I've just begun mine. Pray for us both?

  3. Beautiful beginning! Can't wait for more; to enter the stream....

  4. Thank you, friends! I realize now that some of this will probably continue into the New Year, as there will be Advent and Christmas things to post in between "visits" via the book. We'll just go on this adventure together - shall we?

    Advent seems to be upon us so swiftly this year. Probably because I have a brand new (born nearly 4 weeks early!!... but, thanks be to God, healthy) grandchild who is suddenly distracting me with lots of extra JOY :).

    1. What a beautiful, beautiful early start to the Season. God bless this precious one and family.

    2. Isn't it?!?!? :) !?! Thanks be to God.