Tuesday, March 24, 2015

St. Michael's Institute of Sacred Art

St. Michael's is part of St. Emund's Retreat on Enders Island in Mystic, Connecticut. St. Edmund's is a Catholic retreat center, but you don't have to be Catholic to participate. St. Edmund's is also home to a recovery program for young men.

After a late lunch/dinner at the Steak Loft in Mystic, Himself dropped me off at St. Michael's Hall. This small building was to be the dormitory and the classroom. After checking in, I was shown to my room, St. Thomas, Room 8. At this stage of my life, I consider myself to be more spiritual than religious. I was raised in the Catholic faith so being given this room made me laugh. St. Thomas, the doubting saint. God does have a sense of humor.

At 7 PM on Sunday, we assembled  in the living room of the main house. Here we met Valerie Weilmuenster, the instructor, and Sister E who would provide the spiritual aspect of our stay. There were three other students besides myself. I was the only member of the class who had never been to St. Edmund's. We introduced ourselves and were given the schedule for the week.  We would eat together in a sun room in the main house and work together in Room A of St. Michael's Hall.

The day was nicely paced with time to eat, breathe, work, rest. Breakfast was served at 7:45 AM.. lunch at Noon, and dinner at 5:30 PM. Mass was said each morning at 9 AM, if you were so inclined. The classroom was open from 7- 10 PM for students who wanted to continue working. Usually at calligraphy conferences, the pace is just go, go, go and sometimes the feeling is overwhelming. Not here.  There was time to feed body, mind, and soul and to rest.

Usually, you do not go to conferences for their cuisine. Typical cafeteria style fare is usually served. Not at St. Edmund's. Food was fresh and well prepared. There was a cold breakfast buffet of breads, cereal, yogurt and fresh fruit and a hot breakfast (bacon and eggs, omelet, French toast., etc). There was a buffet lunch assorted hot dishes, soup (the chowder was the best), sandwiches and fixings for a salad, Dinner was served to us in the dining room. Even though it was Lent, we were treated to dessert.

After breakfast on most days, I went to a tiny beach to perform some Chi Gong exercises. I loved the solitude of the beach. On the first morning, a little bird sang to me from his (or her) perch in the bushes behind me. It was a short lived sign of Spring. The weather was cold and blustery. So cold, ice formed on the water! The little bird never came back. Smart enough to stay warm and cozy in his nest.

Class began at 9:45 AM and on the first day, Father came to bless our hands empowering us to do good work. Sister lead us each morning and at the end of class in meditation and contemplation. Our theme for the week was beauty, finding beauty around us. In big and small. I liked the ritual that started and ended each day.


  1. It sounds like an amazing experience. So glad you've gotten to do this.
    I definitely consider myself spiritual instead of religious too.

    1. It was a wonderful experience. I had to wait so long for the opportunity to present itself. It was well worth the wait.

  2. Hey, where is the rest of the story? I want to know how it ended. ;-)

  3. Sounds like a wonderful experience! Glad you had the opportunity.