Strangely enough for my current religious identification (“Jewish Unitarian Universalist with Buddhist leanings,” accurate though unwieldy, I know), I decided to spend the summer of 2009 at the ecumenical Benedictine Holy Wisdom Monastery in the Midwest.
Well, a lot of people are confused as to why I should spend my summer at an ecumenical Benedictine monastery in the middle of Wisconsin. The short explanation is that I did NOT want to temp in Midtown Manhattan or tend children on the Upper East Side, and this monastery offered free room and board in exchange for working on the land, gardening and restoring the native prairie.
The less sarcastic explanation is that I’ve always been curious about contemplative spiritual paths and thought I’d probably grow from nine weeks of hard labor on a prairie, eating things freshly unearthed from the garden, talking about what people think about God all day long in every possible context, and the many shades of green abundance of summertime in Madison, Wisconsin. I was right, and it’s no small credit to the 14 other incredible women who shared this experience with me over the summer. We are now scattered all over the country and world, back at our real lives, but I suspect we’re all carrying Benedict with us in our own ways. (My way, of course, is distinctly heretical and ardently agnostic…but the Benedictines totally rolled with it.)
Holy Wisdom Monastery also just completed construction on the highest rated “green” building in the country–it runs only on energy it generates, has no carbon footprint, and has been financed by supporters of the sisters at the Monastery. This is totally kick-ass DIY eco-justice, people.
I made a 16-minute video over the summer in order to show people how totally rad this opportunity was. I hope you get a sense of the openness of Holy Wisdom Monastery, the beauty of the grounds, the gentleness (and total bad-assery) of the sisters, the gratifying challenge of the outdoor work, the benefits of a pattern of work / prayer / leisure, and the enthusiasm and intelligence of the volunteers. Lady readers (alas, the volunteer program is for current affiliates of the female gender), I recommend that you consider this opportunity for some wholesome summer awesomeness.
For those who care…this short little documentary was cut on FCP with Motion intro; shot on Mini DV with a super crappy little Sony Camcorder with room tone and no light kit (hence some uncorrectable, dark interview shots…sorry folks).
So…with no further self-conscious delay, here it is: Holy Wisdom Monastery, The Movie.