The title, Atchison Blue, comes from a unique color of grey-blue that exists in the stained glass windows of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery in Atchison, Kansas. It began as a blended blue, but was changed over time by the “harsh sunlight and fierce winds of the Kansas prairie.” Judith Valente, a T.V. broadcaster, speaker, and writer, first came to the monastery, a home for Benedictine sisters, to lead a retreat on slowing down and finding balance. Yet, the whole time her own soul was starving for nourishment. The irony wasn’t lost on her.
Valente began to spend one week a month at the Mount, a six hour ride from her home in central Illinois. Atchison Blue tells of her experiences there over the course of three years: the sisters she met, the lessons she learned, and the slow growing of her own soul as she continued to struggle with life. One of the main themes of this book is that of conversatio, having a constant conversation with life. Through both their words and their example, the sisters teach Valente how to slow down and appreciate the present moment, better negotiate her personal relationships, and help her come to terms with the reality of death.
Atchison Blue offers a beautiful look at the women of faith who reside at this particular monastery in Kansas and the lessons that they can teach all of us who live and work in a busy world.