“Your Buddhist and Catholic Thing”

My friend Fr. William Skudlarek, OSB, is a member of the Benedictine community at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, and the Executive Director of the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue [MID] – a fascinating program designed to foster dialogue and cooperation between members of monastic communities from different religious traditions. I’ve had the chance to discuss the MID with William in the past (and it’s something that I’d like to write about in the future), but I must admit that I did not fully appreciate how, well, participatory it could be until recently.

It seems that earlier this month William and a Buddhist monk by the name of Jotipalo Bhikkhu (of Abhayagiri Monastery, Redwood Valley, California) decided to take a week-long “alms walk” along the Paul Bunyan trail in Northern Minnesota. That is to say, they engaged in the Thai Forest tradition of receiving alms on a journey — through the heart of Minnesota’s Casserole Belt. The two monks maintained a journal, and it’s a fun, thoughtful, and recommended read.