Now Featured at the Patheos Book Club
A Search for Silence, a Spiritual Home, and a Living Faith
By Judith Valente
What People are Saying
"This honest and deeply reflective book, which implicitly critiques the myths of success by which so many live and are haunted, deserves a wide audience."
"This is a generous book about an exceptionally generous community of women. Valente allows the reader to feel the warmth of Benedictine hospitality. It is a powerful thing to be accepted as we are, with all our faults and troubles, by people who are willing to listen. Valente is a good storyteller, and fortunately for us these women are willing to share their stories and insights from their daily encounters with scripture, pruning grape vines, human rights issues, the aging process and death, and the trials and joys of communal living."
—Kathleen Norris, Author of The Cloister Walk
"Seldom is 'spiritual' reading so readable as it is here! Judith Valente makes her own liminal experience in a monastery attractive, real, and profound for all of us. There will be very few who would not find her journey helpful to their own."
—Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico
"In Atchison Blue, poet and reporter Judith Valente has created a beautiful portrait of the Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica in Kansas, and the silence, simplicity, and joy of their lives. She sharpens her descriptions by contrasting them with the demands on her own life—the anger, jealousy, and overwork that spill out as she tries to do everything expected of a modern woman.
Valente's challenges are those of all the rest of us, of course, so Atchison Blue becomes not only a lovely story about Benedictine sisters but an inspiring guide for everyone's struggle to find eternal silence in the midst of everyday noise."
—Bob Abernethy, Anchor of Religion & Ethics News Weekly
"Many people yearn for a more contemplative life. Here is the story of a busy professional who found a way to put flesh on that yearning. In the soft light of the Atchison-blue windows and in the presence of a praying community, Judith Valente discovered the medicine of deep listening. Her story, both inspiring and humorous, has the potential to stir up the embers of your own yearning. I joyfully applaud this book."
—Macrina Wiederkehr, O.S.B., Author of Seven Sacred Pauses
"'Atchison blue' refers to the special color of the windows of the chapel of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery in Atchison, Kansas. Judith Valente spent many weeks with these sisters in recent years, trying to understand the Benedictine life. Usually I am not too impressed with these kinds of journalistic peeks at monastic life, finding them either too romantic or too cynical. But this account is different. Valente got to know these sisters really well by spending a long time with them. She seems to have glimpsed the inner life of this remarkable community. But Valente is more than a typical journalist. At least in this account, she opens herself to our examination, revealing aspects of her spiritual life that she finds seriously deficient. I found this account quite moving and heartily recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the spiritual life more deeply."
—Terrence G. Kardong, O.S.B., Author of Benedict's Rule: A Translation and Commentary
"Not only does Judith Valente capture the simple beauty and serenity of monastic life without idealizing a thing, but she also makes a powerful case for the necessity of Benedictine wisdom in our time. Compelling in its honesty, overflowing with grace, Atchison Blue is a marvelous addition to the spiritual writing genre made famous by Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, and Kathleen Norris."
—Paula Huston , Author of A Season of Mystery
"Highly personal, yet quintessentially universal, Judith Valente's spiritual quest in Atchison Blue is absolutely riveting. Memorable not just for her journey, but also for how she writes of it-with the beautiful detailing of a poet and the keen exactitude of a journalist-the narrative reverberates in the mind and indelibly permeates the soul. The gentle and courageous stories she relates impart great wisdom and great joy. I felt I was in the presence of both purity and grace and could not put this book down."
—Susan Hahn , Author of The Six Granddaughters of Cecil Slaughter