by Kathleen Staudt, Companion, Potomac River Chapter


And the Spiritual Home of Companions

``The early mornings on the screened porches of Adelynrood have sometimes moved me beyond words, to an interior place of prayer that wells up into poetry.``

For more than ten years, the Companions’ spiritual home at Adelynrood has been a “thin place” for me, a place where I have found spiritual nourishment, friendships, and a chance to deepen my experience of prayer as a creative activity.  I have had vivid experiences there of what the medieval mystic Hildegard of Bingen named as viriditas: the energy of life that pulses through the natural world and nourishes life.


When I put together my most recent volume of poetry, that word Viriditas seemed perfect for the title. It reflects a profoundly prayerful experience that many of us recognize. The volume includes a sequence of poems that arose from my visits to Adelynrood over the years.



The wings and porches of the house at Adelynrood are named for events and places in the history of our spiritual tradition. So one wing is called “San Damiano,” reflecting an moment of revelation in the life of St. Francis. Another is called “Little Gidding,” after the home of a famous praying community of laity in 17th century England.



This place is soaked through with prayer. When I am there I sink into our “Holy Routine” that includes times of prayer, deepening friendships and frequent laughter, and a rich “Great Silence” that we observe from the end of the Night Prayers service until after worship each morning.


The artwork on the walls and the view from porches looking out over lawn and gardens contribute to my contemplative mood. The early mornings on the screened porches of Adelynrood have sometimes moved me beyond words, to an interior place of prayer that wells up into poetry.


Here are two poems that try to capture something of the peace and prayerfulness of this holy place. [The texts are below the video.]


Kathy Reads the Two Poems


Adelynrood: On San Damiano Porch

This is my favorite time

The quiet of the house in the last hour

Of the Great Silence, just before the bell.

Companions stir, and early risers settle

on porches and in living rooms, with coffee and quiet.

The only sound I hear is the chirping of sparrows

nesting on the porch roof, loud welcome to the day.


A woodpecker here, crow-calls in the distance

join the silent singing of the green

that wraps the old white pine with its five thick trunks

joined as in a dance.

The breeze this morning barely moves: a hot day looms,

and yet the morning air is cool. Leaves barely stir.

Like me and my companions, they breathe in the day,

the sunlight that becomes their food, the air they feed

and the tall, quiet pines, ever-green, and still.


Adelynrood: The Great Silence


The soul’s soil

tapped by hidden roots

nourished in underground springs

takes in the rain that falls

on thirsty loam.

The prayer of rain, the rain of prayer

flows and settles down

feeding arms and bodies

spreading green that takes in

the sun’s light, makes life

gives back shade, greenness,

thick trunks where sap flows

bark covers, lichens feed,

birds nest, swoop, and sing.


No words but a breathing in

of green-ness and life.

The cross stands here on a once-bare hill,

towered over now by pines,

their many trunks that twist and reach

up to blue-green shade

down to roots that penetrate

deep into the rock.

Rooted reaching breathing green

shade and sun bright now

around the weathering Cross.


Poems are from Viriditas: New and Selected Poems by Kathleen Henderson Staudt (Resource Publications, 2023)