Saturday, April 22, 2006

Anchorite Branches Into Interior Design Company


Bro. Jules Northwood, a local Anchorite connected to St. Casimir's Parish, recently announced plans to branch out into interior design, naming his new company "RoomBeautiful".

Bro. Jules is a local fixture, for the past two decades living in a room connected to St. Casimir's Church downtown, adjacent to the altar. Although he has a window to the outside that he uses for visitors seeking spiritual direction, and another interior window to participate in the Mass, he leaves his room (or as he wryly calls it, his "tomb room") only rarely, for trips to the doctor and other necessities. This practice is a form of being a hermit, called being an Anchorite (or if a woman, an Anchoress). The purpose of becoming a hermit of any sort is to devote oneself to the contemplative life of prayer.

But Bro. Jules has discerned an additional aspect to his calling. "People come up to me day after day wanting to know how I live with so little," he said, waving his hand beyond the window to indicate his simple room. "Honestly, I don't know how they live with so much. When one of my directees came and asked whether he and his wife should move into a house with a three or a four car garage, I realized people need my help."

RoomBeautiful is a small enterprise that specializes in getting rid of excess, and going for Bro. Jules calls "the simplicity of the spare." "I start with what people need: a roof, a source of warmth, a small kitchen, a cot, a space to pray and read the Scriptures. Everything else is luxury. That doesn't mean you can't have it, but I ask you to pray for discernment three times whether this design of your home helps you design your life in accordance with God's will."

RoomBeautiful may not be for everyone, he admitted. "Since the note about the company in the parish bulletin, I have gotten some interesting requests," he smiled. "One man came up to the window and asked if I was going to go all Shaker-furniture on him if he hired me. I told him I don't do furniture. Another asked me if I could do feng shui. I guess I could, if I were Taoist...." he laughed.

"The best one was this woman asking me if I could be like I was one of the designers from Trading Spaces for her and her friends, but I don't think that would go well. But... who knows, maybe they will call. I'd be open to leaving the anchorhold for that... I hear they have seminarians discerning on TV now."

--I.C.

(Next time: Trading Spaces calls Bro. Jules!)

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