A Feature Review of
Atchison Blue: A Search for Silence, a Spiritual Home, and a Living Faith
The stained-glass windows of the Mount Saint Scholastica Monastery chapel are a striking grey-blue. They were made in the mid-20th century by a German immigrant and artist who intended an altogether different shade of blue. But the fierce wind and sunshine of eastern Kansas bleached that color into “Atchison blue,” a shade of blue which “exists nowhere else” (2) according to author Judy Valente. (I wish I could find a photo of the color of these windows – I’ve looked online to no avail.)
The windows, of course, are a metaphor of Valente’s own journey with the monastery and also of Benedictine life. Benedictines make vows to conversatio morum: often translated as “conversion of life” or allowing the self to be changed over time by monastic life and the Holy Spirit. They also make a vow of stability, or a commitment to remain in one place and be committed to that place for their entire lives, no matter what. The stained glass of “the Mount” has gone through its own conversatio, shaped and transformed over time by its stability and steadfast exposure to Kansas weather!