A strange mixture of snow and rain swirled in circles and stung at my eyes. The blades of the priory's windmill chopped through the air at record speed in what the local paper recorded the next day as a tornado. I remembered that the windmill had been moved up here by helicopter two years before; its blades had shattered twice while it was located down the hill at the Glinodo Conference Center, where wind off Lake Erie is even stronger than up at the Mount St. Benedict Priory. I also recalled the words of Sr. Joan Chittister, the prioress: "They call Chicago the Windy City, but that's only because they haven't seen Erie."
The conference center was my destination. The blasts of wind grew more severe as I made my way down the hill and closer to the lake. Lake Erie, filled with churning water and large chunks of ice, stretched beyond my view and offered the desolate aura of an Arctic landscape.
The wind ripped the door away from Sr. Mary Margaret Kraus' grasp as she opened it to welcome me in out of the storm. She offered me a mug of hot tea and a warm smile, trademarks of the Benedictine hospitality that greeted me again and again during my stay with the Benedictine Sisters in Erie, Pennsylvania.
"Have you heard the story of St. Scholastica?" she asked. Benedictine tradition records that Scholastica was the twin sister of St. Benedict and the founder of a community of women who followed the Holy Rule that her brother had created for his monks. The two met each year to spend a day in prayer at a place located between their monasteries.