God’s Hotel

We recently finished a book at table, Victoria Sweet’s God’s Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine that took me by surprise by the amount of its monastic content.  I suppose the use of the word “pilgrimage” in the subtitle should have tipped me off.  Dr. Sweet worked at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco for twenty-years and recounts her time there with a great spiritual sense and an appreciation of “slow medicine.”  On the explicitly monastic front, Sweet wrote a doctoral dissertation on St. Hildegard of Bingen, and the great medieval benedictine nun makes several appearances in the narrative.  Sweet also has a lovely section on hospitality (tying it into host, guest, and hospital).  And finally one great thread of the work is her description of her undertaking a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

The book works very well for monastic table reading, but needs some editing for it is after all set in a hospital, and it does have descriptions of open sores, diseases, etc.  But well worth the editing effort.

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