Founder Elizabeth Ayres bids farewell to the Center for Creative Writing
In The Sound of Music, when Maria must choose between her life with the sisterhood and her life with the von Trapp family, her spiritual mother encourages her to follow the dream in her heart. “Climb every mountain,” the elder nun counsels, “Ford every stream.”
For 27 years, I have poured all my love into the effort of encouraging aspiring writers to follow their dreams. Now it’s my turn to climb a mountain that’s beckoned since I was five years old, dressing up as a nun and going out into the woods to pray while my friends played with their dolls. Three times previously I’ve attempted to find the other side of that rainbow, three times I’ve failed, but recently, with our world spinning daily into a dark and darker vortex, I have felt an urgent desire to be a Light-Bearer in a community of Light-Bearers.
Miraculously, just such a community has appeared.
On May 1, 2017, I’ll be entering the Sacred Monastery of St. Nina in Union Bridge, Maryland, a community of Orthodox Christian nuns. Prior to entering, I’ll be received into the Orthodox Church, taking the name ‘Photini,’ which means ‘Lightbearer.’ ‘Photini’ is also the baptismal name of the Samaritan woman with a checkered past, who went one day to draw water from a well and instead encountered Christ, who offered her “springs of water welling up to eternal life.” In addition to praying 5 hours a day, the sisterhood of St. Nina’s roasts organic, fair-trade coffee imported from Uganda and Ethiopia; makes healing balms from lavender and arnica; and bottles honey produced by some very happy bees. Please do visit our website!
In her statement as the new Director of the Center for Creative Writing, Stacia M. Fleegal describes the rough highways and confusing byways she endured while trying to nourish her dream of writing within herself; how she has, in turn, been nourished by the opportunity to encourage all of you. I do not believe I could leave with such peace and joy in my heart if I didn’t know that the school I founded so many years ago will continue into a fruitful future under Stacia’s inspired and inspiring leadership. The Center came along at just the right time for Stacia, yes, but she has come along at just the right time for it as well. I leave all of you in her capable hands.
– Elizabeth Ayres