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The Cloister Walk

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Norris comes at it like most of us do: reasonably religious, reasonably curious, yet grounded in the day-to-day world of secular getting by. she imagines the non-believer asking, then goes on to reply, “The question is best answered simply: ‘Yes. This one has been sitting on one of my many bookshelves for years, and I’ve nearly picked it up several times only to get distracted or feel that the requisite spiritual mood wasn’t there. Byatt excepted here- and to be honest, only Possession– that gorgeous thing that somehow manages to be commanding and passionate at the same time, and stared you down with its intelligence while never losing heart.

By the time I finished the book I realized I was reading while listening to the CD of chants prepared at the monastery I most often visit. Her poetic sensibilities internalise the monastery as a symbol of spirituality, with its sanctity and humour, questioning and uncertainty, rhythm and vigour. Part record of her time among the Benedictines, part meditation on various aspects of monastic life, The Cloister Walk demonstrates, from the rare perspective of someone who is both an insider and outsider, how immersion in the cloistered world– its liturgy, its ritual, its sense of community– can impart meaning to everyday events and deepen our secular lives.

Why would a married woman with a thoroughly Protestant background and often more doubt than faith be drawn to the ancient practice of monasticism, to a community of celibate men whose days are centered on a rigid schedule of prayer, work, and scripture?

It’s still early in the year but there’s more evidence almost every day that the housing market is already in better shape than at the start of 2023. They take the time to sing, chant and read the psalms aloud, leaving plenty of room for silence, showing a respect for words that is remarkable. The humanizing stories they tell about both of them are the most wonderful parts of both books- Hey! In 2000, Norris and her husband traded their farmhouse on the Great Plains for a condo in Honolulu, Hawaii, so that Norris could help care for her aging parents after her husband’s own failing health no longer permitted him to travel. Kathleen Norris, a married woman with a thoroughly Protestant background and often more doubt than faith, finds herself, somewhat to her own surprise, on two extended residencies at St John's Abbey in Minnesota.Collected from a diverse range of sources, including Parabola and The New Yorker, these essays offer some insight and grace, but the organizing principle of community is a bit diffuse. If so, did the book provide you with ideas for overcoming the ways you have become exiled from your religion? e. attire) and several, almost academic like articles on lesser known saints, revered because they were willing to be murdered to keep their virginity.

For Norris, the potent metaphors of scripture harness a power that simultaneously encompasses the literal and transcends it. It’s about getting to know a text so deeply that you could recite lines by heart, and likely have interpreted it and re-interpreted it so many times that its almost as if a different person read it each time.Poetry lovers, English-literature students, marriage counsellors, monks, hairstylists, unemployed people, teachers, Catholics, Protestants, agnostics, Buddhists. Her sheltered upbringing left her unprepared for the world she encountered when she began attending Bennington College in Vermont. Kathleen Norris is the award-winning, bestselling author of Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith; The Cloister Walk; and Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. You can change your choices at any time by visiting Cookie preferences, as described in the Cookie notice. She can be patronising in places too, such as in her discussion of celibacy: "Ideally, in giving up the sexual prsuit of women (whther as demons or as idealized vessels of purity), the male ceibate learns to realte to them as human beings.

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