Massey College at the end of summer

2012-09-02

in Canada, Daily updates, Massey College, Psychology, Toronto

Massey College is full of luxurious silence. At night, it is usually only possible to hear the water flowing into the pond in the main quad and the chirp of a few insects. The contrast with a room overlooking College Street is excessive, and the new transition has been a reminder of how important a home’s acoustic surroundings are for determining how pleasant or unpleasant it is to occupy.

We will see if the place becomes less tranquil as more of the junior fellows move in. For now, I am enjoying the ease with which I can pretend I am in rural Vermont, rather than the middle of Canada’s most sprawling metropolis.

It’s also remarkable to be living in a building designed by a single person (and a British Columbian) with the clear purpose of serving as a home for a group of young scholars. Some of this is revealed in tiny details, like how the desk chairs in the studies tuck elegantly against the side of the desk, or how the lamp behind the bed is designed to be easily turned on or off by a person reading. To get myself thinking about communal and intentional forms of living, I have been reading the Rule of Saint Benedict. It contains some good advice for people and communities in general, though I am glad not to be living in a place where supreme obedience to an abbot and scripture is a central part of life. Rather, the main aim will be to devote myself to scholarly work – research and writing.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Nora September 2, 2012 at 6:01 pm

And so, seven years on, I subscribe to your RSS feed. I hope the depth of enlightenment you experience at Massey is comparable to your experience at Wadham.

oleh September 3, 2012 at 6:22 am

Enjoy the experience.

Sash September 3, 2012 at 9:38 am

Sounds amazing Milan. I can’t wait to come visit!

. September 3, 2012 at 11:28 am

“To the monk heaven was next door; he formed no plans, he had no cares; the ravens of his father Benedict were ever at his side. He ‘went forth’ in his youth ‘to his work and to his labour’ until the evening of life; if he lived a day longer, he did a day’s work more. Whether he lived many days or few, he laboured on to the end of them. He had no wish to see further in advance of his journey than where he was to make his next stage. He ploughed and sowed, he prayed, he meditated, he studied, he wrote, he taught, and then he died and went to heaven.”
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StBenedict 0580 (St. Benedict)
– Highlight Loc. 171-75

. September 3, 2012 at 11:29 am

AN abbot who is worthy to preside over a monastery ought always to remember what he is called and to justify his title by his deeds.
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StBenedict 0580 (St. Benedict)
– Note Loc. 349

. September 3, 2012 at 11:30 am

“Convince, entreat, rebuke”: that is to say, mingling according to circumstances gentleness with severity, let him show the sternness of a master, the affection of a father: that is to say, he ought to convince the undisciplined and restless almost harshly: but to entreat the obedient, the meek and the patient, that they progress still better. But the negligent and the haughty we admonish him to rebuke and correct.
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StBenedict 0580 (St. Benedict)
– Highlight Loc. 376-79

The more dignified and the intellectually minded let him correct by word at their first and second admonition; but the froward, the hard, the proud and the disobedient, let him coerce at the very first offence by the stripes of corporal punishment, knowing it is written: “A fool is not corrected by words”; and again: “Strike thy son with the rod and thou wilt free his soul from death.”
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StBenedict 0580 (St. Benedict)
– Highlight Loc. 379-80

and let him know how difficult and arduous a matter he has undertaken, namely, to govern souls and to adapt himself to many dispositions. One with gentleness, another with rebukes, another with persuasion, so let him, according to the character and intelligence of each, mould and adapt himself, that not only may no injury accrue to the flock entrusted to him, but that he may actually have occasion to rejoice in the increase of his flock’s welfare.
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StBenedict 0580 (St. Benedict)
– Note Loc. 383

alena September 3, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Would you be able to post a photo of Massey College for those of us who are far away from Toronto?
It sounds like a place that is well-suited to reading, research and scholarly dialogue. Enjoy it.

Milan September 4, 2012 at 3:56 pm
alena September 4, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Thank you. It was interesting to see the rooms, dining room and other information about your college. It looks amazingly beautiful and serene.

. May 14, 2013 at 4:18 pm

AT THE heart of several cities in Belgium lies an unexpected treasure. A gate in a high brick wall creaks open, to reveal a cluster of small, whitewashed, steep-roofed houses round a church. Cobbled alleyways run between them and tiny lawns, thickly planted with flowers, grow in front of them. The cosiness, the neatness and the quiet suggest a hortus conclusus, a medieval metaphor both for virginal women and the walled garden of paradise.

These places were not convents, but beguinages, and the women in them were not nuns, but Beguines. In these communities, which sprang up spontaneously in and around the cities of the Low Countries from the early 13th century, women led lives of prayer, chastity and service, but were not bound by vows. They could leave; they made their own rules, without male guidance; they were encouraged to study and read, and they were expected to earn their keep by working, especially in the booming cloth trade. They existed somewhere between the world and the cloister, in a state of autonomy which was highly unusual for medieval women and highly disturbing to medieval men.

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