Here’s how this week’s arts and culture piece begins:

Last summer I gave a retreat entitled “The Vocation of the Artist” at Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, Ireland.

The retreatants varied in age, nationality, demographic, and religious orientation.

Some but not all were working artists.

One young American woman was painting a series of Irish holy wells. Another, from Dublin, had designed stamps for An Post, the Irish postal service. One man, a Joycean scholar, wrote for The Irish Times. A 36-year-old woman taught at an inner-city Dublin school.

Our credo was a quote from Russian playwright and short-story writer Anton Chekhov: “If you want to work on your art, work on your life.”



  1. Anonymous says: Reply

    Heather, our book club assignment this month is the poem by T S Eliot, The Four Quartets-
    I am captured. It has shaken my soul and pierced my heart. I see a line about the shirt of flame, so you must be familiar with the poem. I wish I was a writer. Eliot’s theme of time, unexpectedly entered my heart during a visit to my childhood /teen/ young adult home this month. There on the beach, where I spend innumerable hours, I sensed for the first time the love God has always had for me and always will=through all the many many years of searching. None was wasted…being a poet must be such an intense internal journey.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Yes indeed, the concepts of time and place acquire rich mystery/meaning as we age…I know, I often wish I were a poet, too. I’m reading slowly through R.S. Thomas, Welsh poet, at the moment…

      And absolutely, the title for my book about St. Therese came from Eliot:…

      “The dove descending breaks the air
      With flame of incandescent terror
      Of which the tongues declare
      The one discharge from sin and error.
      The only hope, or else despair
      Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre-
      To be redeemed from fire by fire.

      Who then devised the torment? Love.
      Love is the unfamiliar Name
      Behind the hands that wove
      The intolerable shirt of flame
      Which human power cannot remove.
      We only live, only suspire
      Consumed by either fire or fire.”
      ― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

  2. Ingrid Christensen says: Reply

    I missed your article that contained Father Haggerty’s book. He gave a retreat here. He is an incredible storyteller and uses that gift masterfully in the retreat. Powerful! Thank you for everything Heather, you are a blessing.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Oh what a gift that you were able to attend a Fr. Haggerty retreat, Ingrid! A friend visiting NYC had him for Mass last evening at St. Patrick’s and also said he was wonderful. “What are you looking for?” he emphasized, as Jesus asked the disciples who “came and saw”…


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