Saturday, December 30, 2023

Monastery of the Holy Spirit and book binding with Uncle Patrick

After hiking Arabia Mountain, we headed over to visit the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. It was interesting to visit a modern monastery since we'd only ever seen ancient ones (like St. Anthony's in Egypt, circa 300 AD). The Monastery of the Holy Spirit was founded in 1944. At first the monks stayed in an old barn on site (in an interview with the last surviving founding monk, he said that staying in the barn wasn't always comfortable, but if Baby Jesus could be born in a stable, they could handle staying in a barn). 

Soon construction began on more permanent structures. 

Here's Benjamin trying to lift a wheelbarrow of cement in the museum:

Phoebe and Alexander had a fun time learning about the schedule at the monastery by listening to various monks talk about their day through telephone recordings.

The morning vigil begins at 4:00 am, which is admittedly a little early. The sign by the start of the day says that "St. Benedict understood the challenge of waking so early. In his Rule, he says of monks, 'On arising for the Work of God, they will quietly encourage one another, for the sleepy like to make excuses.' He goes on to write that a brother must be considered tardy if he arrives after Psalm 94, so the community should chant that psalm 'very deliberately and slowly.'" What a kindness, to encourage others to maintain standards while allowing for plenty of grace.

After we exited the museum, Andrew wanted to head straight to the church (which honestly would have only taken a minute or two to look at since we could only stand in the entrance), but instead we took a break for lunch. Phoebe very reasonably begged for "a widdow lunchy," though after she asked for that she changed her mind and said, "No! I want a bid, bid lunchy!" 

Clearly she was too hungry to put off lunch for very much longer. And so we broke out our little picnic and fed Phoebe (and everybody) a big, big lunch.

The interior of the church was simple, but beautiful, and immediately invoked reverence. I was especially impressed with Phoebe's instincts to whisper and be still.

I know that that as a religious person I'm somewhat biased, but I think places of restorative peace—like this monastery, like my own temples—are important. Providing people a place to slow down and think—perhaps commune with God—without interruption is important. I don't know that it matters whether outsiders are allowed in (the grounds of the monastery were peaceful, for example, even though there were areas outsiders were barred from (including most of the chapel); non-Muslims are banned from most mosques in Morocco, but still I find there is beauty and peace surrounding these places dedicated to God); I'm glad that people have them as a tool. 

When we got home from our outing we continued working on our book binding skills (technically, I think this particular day we finished up the little kids' books). 


Uncle Patrick was kind enough to offer to rebind the hymnbook Andrew's been using for the past 18 years. I know he's been using it for 18 years because it's one that we got for our wedding and Andrew has usually had a calling in music. We actually got two spiral bound hymnbooks for our wedding, which felt like overkill at the time (especially because I think we also got a couple of casebound hymnbooks as well), but we've really ended up using all of them quite a lot. Admittedly, we use some copies more than other, and the copy that Andrew adopted as "his" was one such copy. 

A couple of months the cover started to really show some wear, so I tape it back together after consulting with Patrick. His first suggestion was to simply buy a new hymnbook (about $25), but I explained that Andrew wanted to preserve all the notes he'd made. So he told me that he'd rebind it when he came out for Christmas (about $60 in materials (glue, double-sided adhesive sheets, and rice paper), plus about $200 of free labour provided by Patrick, plus about $10 on rivets), so you see it would have made a lot of sense to simply buy a new hymnbook). 

I cross-stitched the Salt Lake Tabernacle Organ onto a fat quarter from Miriam's stash (so that part was pretty much free), and then Patrick walked me through how to turn the material into book cloth before he took apart the book and rebound it. 

My cross-stitch may have ended up a little crooked on the canvas (it was my first time using waste canvas and...I probably did it wrong), but that's okay. Patrick made it work!

It ended up unique and beautiful and Andrew's very excited to play from it tomorrow (and it should hold up well for many more years to come).

Not wanting our extra materials to go to waste, Patrick initiated a book-making workshop for us. This time he had Miriam and Rachel turn some material into book cloth while he prepared some signatures for us:

Here's a shot of my first two signatures stitched together:

Here's Patrick giving some tips to Rachel and Miriam:

Here's Zoë sneaking in to say goodnight:

Rather than teaching us all at once, Patrick taught me, Rachel, and Miriam one night, and Benjamin, Zoë, and Alexander the next day (so that the older helpers might have half a chance of helping).

Here's Rachel gluing the spine of her book after she completed her sewing:

Here's Rachel preparing to glue the boards onto her book cloth:

Miriam set her end boards a teensy bit too close together and had a little bit of trouble getting her text block in. Their scowls of concentration were adorably similar at this particular moment:

Once we had all the books assembled for the evening, we set the books under some weights, and then set about clearing up our mess. At one point I walked from the dining room into the kitchen and stumbled upon this scene:

Patrick and I did most of the sewing (though Zoë did a couple of stitches herself) and each of the kids did some gluing and pressing and had a great time doing so!

On Uncle Patrick's last night here (Friday night), we took pictures with Uncle Patrick and the books he helped us make:

We all had such a good time spending with Uncle Patrick and learning from him. It was a great visit!

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a great time. I'm glad Patrick was able to spend Christmas with you!

    Did Zoë get her hair cut? It looks good!