All posts tagged: Kristin Lavransdatter

The Church Has a Morbid Streak

I was in my mid-twenties when my father handed me his 1929 edition of Sigrid Undset’s Nobel Prize-winning trilogy, Kristen Lavransdatter, and said, “I think you’ll really like this.” This is typically how my dad makes his book recommendations. He puts a story in your hands and says, “I think you’ll really like this.” It took a few years and a couple of starts and stops to get through this massive historical novel set in medieval Catholic Norway. The tome sat at the bottom of a stack for while, but in the end, I fell in love with Kristin Lavransdatter, which I have often described as not unlike Augustine’s Confessions if the Confessions were written in third person feminine voice and set in medieval Scandinavia. Sigrid Undset became one of my favorite authors because her writing reveals that rare perception of the pain and beauty of St. Paul’s words in the Letter to the Romans: “where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more.” Without affect, sentimentality, or illusion her writing expresses the realities of the …

Our Lady, Doer of Knots

At the beginning of our marriage, my husband and I spent six months living in Argentina as volunteers at a hospice house. The hospice was run by a religious community with whom we were connected, and welcomed terminally ill men and women, particularly from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Over the course of our time at the hospice we had the privilege of walking with more than 30 guests during their final weeks and days of life, caring for their bodily and spiritual needs, and on occasion accompanying them over the final threshold into eternal life. One guest in particular made a lasting impression on us. Elena was a real firecracker; like all the hospice guests her disease was terminal, but unlike many other guests she still had an intense zest for life and lived for a number of months in the house. My husband bonded with her over their shared appreciation of a meal that was brought to the table “bien calentito” (piping hot), and we spent many an afternoon swapping stories, telling jokes, and working …