April 9th, 2013
For this trip to Saint Mary’s College, the gentle spring rains from low clouds ensured that all the planes both into and out of Chicago’s O’Hare airport were either delayed or cancelled.However, all that drama didn’t keep this trip to South Bend, Indiana from being a fast-paced and wonderful visit.
My host professor, Dr. Ted Billy, thoughtfully arranged a dinner my first night with fiction writer Frances Hwang and Dr. Rosalind E. Clark.
The following day brought a heavy rainstorm, but Dr. Billy and I were able to view the exquisite and original chapel of Loretto, which the founding Sisters of the Holy Cross built soon after their arrival in 1844.
Lunch brought slices of the best pizza I’ve had in my life, and an energetic conversation with English majors about various aspects of both poetry writing and fiction writing. Most of this discussion centered around my asking the girls what aspects of writing craft had not been covered in their classes.
In the middle of the afternoon, I presented a reading from Walking Home and was touched and honored by the absolute concentration of those in attendance, including Sister Kathleen Dolphin, PBVM, the director of the Center for Spirituality.
After dinner with many fascinating faculty members from several departments at the college, we all walked to an exquisite reception hosted by the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership in the historic LeMans Hall. I then gave a presentation on “Spiritual Memoir: Crucible of Self.” We began with St. Augustine, the first writer of a spiritual memoir, and proceeded through a few centuries to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love and (of course) to Walking Home. Believe it or not, we fit all these writers into one hour!! (more or less)
Oh, yes, walking back to the inn on-campus with Dr. Billy and several of the gracious faculty members, we discovered that we all were Aquarians with one exception! We all had birthdays within a few days of each other. Wow! An amazing coincidence at the end of a wonderful day!
I owe a heartfelt thanks to Dr. Ted Billy for arranging such a powerful day through the coalition of departments and centers who sponsored the visit: the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership, the Center for Spirituality, the Religious Studies Department, the Gender and Women’s Studies Department, the Department of History, and the Department of English!! Thank you!!