At 2 p.m. Sunday, July 14, the Monastery of St. Gertrude will host author Susan Swetnam, who will read from her new book, “In the Mystery’s Shadow: Reflections on Caring for the Elderly and Dying.”
In her book, Susan Swetnam draws on her experience of serving thousands of ill and dying clients, often in hospice programs, as a certified massage therapist — and also on her experience of caring for her own husband, who died young of cancer. She explains how this sometimes difficult work offers not just the fulfillment of giving comfort to people who need it, but also “moments of breathtaking wonder, moments that hint at the untold complexity of being human and affirm our sacred connections with each other.” She writes of the hard lessons caregivers learn about themselves and invites those who care for the sick and dying, whether professional or volunteer, to stay awake to the sacred implications of their labors.
The book is published by Liturgical Press and was favorably reviewed in Publisher’s Weekly in May, 2019. An article based on the book is forthcoming in St. Anthony Messenger, and Susan will be presenting at the National Caregiving Conference in Chicago in November, 2019.
After more than three decades as an English Professor at Idaho State University (during which she was honored as university distinguished teacher, researcher, and public servant, as well as receiving a lifetime achievement award from the Idaho Humanities Council), Susan Swetnam retired to a second-act career as a licensed massage therapist. She specializes in work with hospice patients, with the elderly (including people with dementia), with cancer survivors, and with caregivers and the bereaved. She is the author of nine books and many published articles and essays in national magazines (Gourmet, Mademoiselle), academic journals, regional magazines, and little/literary magazines. Widow of poet Ford Swetnam, she lives in southeastern Idaho, where she is a member of Holy Spirit Parish. She is a long-time friend of the Monastery of St. Gertrude and was lead scholar on a project which collected an oral history of foodways there.
The book reading will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 14, in the Multipurpose Room of the main building at the Monastery of St. Gertrude, 465 Keuterville Road, Cottonwood. Books will be available for signing and purchase. This event is free and refreshments will be served. For more information, call 208-962-5065.