Wednesday, January 14, 2009
DOROTHY DAY AT GRAILVILLE
According to Taylor (GREEN SISTERS, p. 28):
After attending a two-week intensive course at Grailville in 1943, Catholic Worker Movement cofounder Dorothy Day (1897-1980) gave a report that sounds as if she had made a retreat at Crystal Spring, Michaela Farm, or the Green Mountain Monastery. Day chronicled: "We have learned to meditate and bake bread, pray and extract honey, sing and make butter, cheese, cider, wine, and sauerkraut.
In a treatise published by the NCRLC in November 1944, Grail member Janet Kalven uses poetic imagery to communicate what would today signal themes of ecofeminism. Kalven prescribed: "Like Anteaus, the mythological hero, modern society must renew its strength by contact with the earth. Women have an essential role to play in that renewal." On the porch of the old Victorian main house at Grailville in the summer of 1997, Kalven spoke with me about Grail members' early interest (in the 1940s) in organic gardening and the philosophies of sacred agriculture and biodynamic farming theorized by nineteenth-century Austrian mystic Rudolf Steiner. She explained (in part because of this interest) that the garden directly outside what is now the community dining hall has been cultivated organically since its inception in the 1940s. She also spoke of how Grail members performed rituals in the fields and in the vineyards, claiming nature as their sanctuary, ritually observing the seasons and reveling in the bounty of the land. "We had a liturgical approach to rural life," recounts Kalven. "We had the idea that you understood the symbolism of the Grapevine more if you had actually pruned a grapevine." Barbara Ellen Wald's 1943 essay "Grail Adventure" similarly brims with excitment about her first year with the Grail and evokes seasonal themes and imagery similar to those now found within the culture of green sisters. Walk writes: "The beautiful rhythm of the Church year with its cycles and seasons has never before had such a deep significance for me...[At Advent] we eagerly counted the hours until 'the earth would open and bud forth the savior.'"
Kalven also recounts that in the 1970s, Grailville--a haven for prominent Catholic liberals--welcomed the new philosophies of Thomas Berry.
Here is the website for Grailville.