The Carpet Bagger's Journal — moving from NYC to Mississippi

March 7, 2011

The White Trash Anchoress of Oxford


blessed are the deliverymen, for they shall see the anchoress

Behold the Anchoress of white trash hacking and wheezing.  Write a new beatitude — something like “blessed are the cough, for they shall see sneeze” — for me.  I am living a life set apart unto God, or at least a life set apart.

Last week, as part of the “Generations of Feminism” 30th anniversary of the Isom Center for Gender Studies at the University of Mississippi, I participated in a roundtable discussion about anchoresses in the Middle Ages.  Chiefly, but not exclusively, women with contemplative holy callings were walled up in ancillary chambers in churches for at least a time in the Medieval period in Northern Europe, with windows that generally only looked upon the Host, the wafers transubstantiated as the Body of Christ, with some small portals on other people.

A movie was made in the 1990s about one such anchoress, and we discussed it.  Never did I think that one week later, I would be living as an anchoress myself.  Rather than being like Christine Carpenter, Anchoress of Wisse, or Hildegarde Von Bingen or Francis of Assissi, who were both temporarily anchored thus, I am more of a secularized anchoress, holed up in my apartment bedroom near the campus of Ole Miss, with a tiny portal allowing me to see nothing so sacred as the mystical body of the Lord, but rather the bus taking students to and from class.

I am Anne Babson, white trash anchoress of phlegm.

In a hermit's cell with my anchor-hound-dog -- the white trash anchoress of Oxford

You see, the day we had the roundtable discussion, I got caught in a downpour, then sat for hours in too much air conditioning.  As a result, I caught a very, very bad cold.  Since Thursday night, I have been sealed in my room with boxes of tissue and delivered food.  The Bible says, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,” and I do say so, but I also say, “let the redeemed of the coupons give discounts, as I am not getting out today, either.”

I hate being sick, but I’ve been doing more than I should, and it was a virtual inevitability that I would start hacking and wheezing.

A room of one’s own is a necessity in such times.  I am less of a burden on the population at large this way.  I wonder, however, that they have not yet started to come to me seeking the prophetic word of the Virgin Mary as happened in the movie we discussed at the round table.  Perhaps it is because I have not sealed myself in here with any Madonna statuettes, nor have the residents of Oxford, Mississippi been kept from all forms of literacy.  Perhaps it is because my secular view only affords a glimpse of untransubstantiated human flesh, making me a source of limited wisddom.

All I know for sure is that I  am glad this is not my permanent state of being, that the seal is not hermetic.  I’ll be out and about tomorrow.

1 Comment »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: