A Crook for Souls


Today I arrived in Wyoming to visit a dear friend. On the way, while in what she approvingly called “the Wyoming part of Colorado,” we passed the Benedictine Abbey of St. Walburga and decided to stop. On the road in we passed a magnificent little canyon and a pair of smiling alpacas. We were greeted kindly by a postulant there—the only postulant—a gentle woman with three small warts on her chin. She showed us around their decade-old facility and its tasteful church, but soon had to hurry off to Vespers, which I was sorry we didn’t have time to attend.

Before she left, I asked who St. Walburga, the abbey’s patroness, was. She lived in the eighth century. Born in England, she was called by St. Boniface to go to Germany and preach the gospel there. Preach the gospel—saying that, our postulant became bashful. Outside, the statue of Walburga held her crook with certainty, shepherding her flock of nuns and gathering more from the fields. Inside, why the reluctance? Post-Vatican II liberal-Catholic squeamishness? The monastic sensibility that faith is a private matter, to be shared not in words but through the whole of one’s life?

Or maybe because this is already God’s country…

Nathan Schneider is an editor of Killing the Buddha and writes about religion, reason, and violence for a variety of publications. He is also a founding editor of Waging Nonviolence. His first two books, published by University of California Press in 2013, are God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet and Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse. Visit his website at The Row Boat.