Accumulated Treasures

Only days before we went into lockdown, I was asked to move from my lovely one-bedroom apartment in campus housing to a room with a bathroom in the monastery. The plan called for fumigating and cleaning the dorm spaces to accommodate the coronavirus patients, if needed. I was given the “entire weekend” to move 17 years of living and accumulating during that time. Well, of course, the sisters came to my rescue, and indeed I was out with the allotted time.

Because I am a teacher, reader and crafter, I had accumulated many things related to my trades, of course. For example, with my yarn and counted cross-stitch kits, I could almost open up a small shop. I do as much as I can to help stock our gift shop, but since I was also teaching, I was not overloading their stock.

However, as a teacher, I had saved many folders, articles and papers relating to writing and the teaching thereof. My 20+ years teaching at the College of Saint Benedict meant that I had stacks of papers and such. Also, as a teacher I promoted reading, especially leisure reading as a source of lifelong learning and enjoyment. To be a model for my students, I practiced the fine art of reading and telling stories. Of course, in order to do so, I collected books—books that I was reading, books that I had read and books to be read. Lots of books.

Personally, I love mystery, crime and thriller books, besides bestsellers. Therefore, I often felt obliged to let students know what I was currently reading and in return hear about their recent trips into the world of books.

Unfortunately, they wanted to let me know about the stories they had recently seen through computers or other favorite technology. I was happy they were telling stories, but I was trying to promote reading. I am happy to share that some loved books almost as much as I, however. Some even wanted to loan me a good book.

Well, you see that the amount of accumulation in my small apartment was substantial. The sisters were so gracious in helping me move, and now I have the job of sorting, organizing or throwing whatever is in the many boxes and bags we brought to the monastery. So, for me the “lockdown” has become a blessing in disguise.

Mary Jane Berger, OSB

Photo: Books and projects created by Studium scholars