In this posting I will share with you my experience as an Artist In Residence at the Monastery of St. Gertrude in northwestern Idaho. I was there for six weeks from the beginning of June until July 15th. During June I was provided with an art studio and dedicated time to focus on my art. At the same time I joined in living with the Sisters, Oblates, volunteers, other artists and staff, all who make up the Community of the The Benedictine Sisters of the Monastery of St. Gertrude. It was a unique experience and I hope to give you a taste of it here.
First, a few words on the history of the Monastery. The presence of the Benedictine Sisters of the Monastery of St. Gertrude dates all the way back to 1882 when 3 missionary sisters arrived in Gervais, Oregon from a cloister in Sarnen, Switzerland. Led by Sr. Johanna Zumstein, they converted a run down building into workable monastic quarters and began service at a local Indian mission.
The pioneering Sisters increased in numbers as more arrived from Switzerland and they served in Oregon and Washington before establishing themselves near Cottonwood, Idaho. They established and staffed schools to meet the needs of children in Uniontown and Colton, Washington and expanded the educational ministry into Idaho as well.
|The Camas Prairie directly across from the Monastery. (June 7, 2019)|
The lasting "home" for the Benedictine Sisters of St. Gertrude was built during the 1920's. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The monastery was built with a stone called Blue Porphyry which was quarried from the hill directly behind it.
Always pioneers wherever they established themselves, the Sisters extended the hand of education for over 50 years after they settled in Cottonwood. They started and served as staff in schools at different educational levels throughout Idaho.
The ministry of the Sisters expanded into the area of health care starting in the 1930's. They established and operated award winning hospital facilities in Cottonwood, Wendell and Jerome Idaho over the years. Although no longer operated by the Sisters, their spirit of quality care for those in need live on to this day.
As times changed their ministries have changed and continue to this day in Idaho, Washington and California.
|Early Sunday morning on the Camas Prairie. (June 2, 2019)|
The Mission Statement: Through the ministry of our Historical Museum, we and our visitors are made more aware of and are grateful for the accomplishments and lives of our ancestors.
I have a special appreciation for both the Museum AND the benches that are available to visitors for rest and reflection. The benches offer a peaceful view across the road to the prairie and became a go-to spot for me.
On many mornings I could be found with a cup of coffee, camera and reading/writing materials at the bench outside the Museum. What a memorable spot from which to start the day!
I wish I could provide you with the audio of the birds giving their excited commentary on the beginning of the day!
The Mission Statement: Spirit Center draws upon the core values of the Monastery of St. Gertrude — Healing Hospitality, Grateful Simplicity and Creative Peacemaking — in its role as a center for the exploration and promotion of the arts, spirituality, history, and social justice. We offer contemplative space for learning, renewal and crucial conversation as we partner with others for a better world.
The Inn at St. Gertrude
Opened in May 2010, The Inn offers a traditional Bed and Breakfast opportunity to visitors. It offers a quiet retreat and a home base from which to enjoy all that the region has to offer._________________________________________________
Back to the Camas Prairie
Care for the Land
The Sister's devotion to caring for the land is evident in the way the grounds are kept. In 1991 they wrote their Philosophy of Land Use which includes the following:
"Through the years our community and this land have been bonded together. With humility we recognize the earth (humus) as the source from which we (humanity) receive our life and our sustenance. Our inner spirits are renewed by the contemplative environment it provides."
Currently the Monastery has ownership and responsibility for nearly 1,400 acres of land. Most of it is forested. But the pictures here show land that includes gardens, orchards, and farming land.
Oh! and did I mention RASPBERRIES!
|Raspberry Bushes! - Raspberry Jam! - Raspberry Festival!|
The raspberry crop is awaited by the entire community with much anticipation every year. The bushes (above) are tended with great care. Raspberry Jam (really good!) is available in the dining room and sold year around at the Museum Gift Shop. And the Raspberry Festival draws crowds to the Monastery each year in early August.
Below are The Orchards beside the path that goes up the hill behind the Monastery.
|Monastery Orchard in evening light. (July 10, 2019)|
On the way to the Monastery Cemetery
Back to the Camas Prairie
This time during a remarkable and damaging thunder storm:
|Late afternoon storm: 4:00 PM (June 13)|
|4:04 PM (June 13)|
|4:11 PM (June 13)|
The Chapel of St. Gertrude's Monastery
In June of 1979 the Monastery and the Chapel were entered onto the National Register of Historic Places. Construction of the Chapel began in 1919 and was completed in 1924.
The 97 foot tall towers house four bells named in honor of The Sacred Heart, St. Joseph, St. Michael, and St. Gabriel.
The High Altar was commissioned and built in Germany. In 1927 it was shipped to Idaho by way of Belgium and the Panama Canal. It arrived in Cottonwood by freight train in 1928 and was pulled by a four horse wagon to the Monastery. The man who created it, Otto Kieber, came to Idaho from Germany to erect the Altar in place.
Wooden choir stalls have a place of great significance in the Chapel.
The practice of morning and evening prayer takes place in the choir stalls. The Sisters come together twice a day to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. This form of prayer is an essential part of Benedictine spirituality. All visitors are invited to join with the community in this twice daily coming together.
And below a few details that add to the character of The Chapel.
Rainbows on the Camas Prairie
|Quite a night! (July 8, 2019)|
More inside the Monastery
|Art in the hallway going into the dining room.|
Why share pictures of the dining room?
In a word - Community. Meal time is another opportunity to come together and share the day.
Camas Prairie in early evening.
|(June 23, 2019)|
|They were very curious! (June 23, 2019)|
Fellow Visiting Artists and Volunteers:
During the month of June there were two of us
at the Monastery as Artists in Residence.
at the Monastery as Artists in Residence.
Writer Susan (left) and Sister Teresa (right)
on a visit to Pine Flat on the Snake River.
During the month of July three more artists brought their talents to the Monastery.
|Left to right: Daniel (volunteer), Karla (Oblate and Artist), Jamie (Artist), myself (still an artist), and Nate (Writer)|
Art Studio - Can't say enough about how much I enjoyed the hours spent in this space. Plenty of light in a space that had been used and enjoyed by others who came before me and will come after me.
I will soon be posting some of the work I created during my month as Artist in Residence. That posting will be found at: https://maryhamblyart.blogspot.com
And now, the morning of July 15th.
On the day I left the Monastery to travel back to Indiana, I was out early to catch the sunrise on the Camas Prairie.
|4:42 AM (July 15, 2019)|
|4:57 AM ( July 15, 2019)|
|5:07 AM (July 15, 2019)|
The monastic community at the Monastery of St. Gertrude is a unique, friendly, forward thinking place where work, prayer and community are highly valued. The intelligent and meaningful legacy of their 130 years of work and ministry in Oregon, Washington and Idaho is inspiring. I am grateful for their Hospitality and the opportunity to spend this month of focus on my art. And grateful to you for taking the time to share the experience through this blog posting. In closing I leave you with words from The Rule of St. Benedict:
LISTEN WITH THE EAR OF YOUR HEART!