CategoriesWoman's SpiritualityHoly Woman and High Priestess Cloister Walk, The

Cloister Walk, The

Product no.: 1-57322-584-3
Protestant woman's time spent in a community of men in a traditional Benedictine monastery in Minnesota.

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Publisher's Synopsis
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 around a rigid schedule of prayer, work, and scripture? This is the question that Kathleen Norris herself asks as, somewhat to her own surprise, she found herself on two extended residencies at a Benedictine monastery. Yet upon leaving the monastery, she began to feel herself transformed, and the daily events of her life on the Great Plains - from her morning walk to her going to sleep at night - gradually took on new meaning. She found that in the monastery, time slowed down, offering a new perspective on community, family, and even small-town life.

Reviews
"This is a remarkable piece of writing... If read with humility and attention, Kathleen Norris's book becomes lectio divina, or holy reading."       ~The Boston Globe

"Benedictine/Trappist membership have already read this book. The highest praise we can give any book is to care enough to read it at table. Most of the male monasteries still have table reading... Kathleen Norris has done what no one else has done: wake up a generation of monastics (men and women)."        ~Sr. Mary Margaret Funk, OSB

"Poets, Norris explains, like men and women of the church, are devoted to recognizing and celebrating the sacredness of life. Norris expands upon this insight as she considers celibacy, virgin martyrs, metaphor, marriage, the poetry of Emily Dickinson, and the benefits of living intentionally rather than casually. A deeply moving encounter with the heart and mind of a writer devoted to the highest level of inquiry."      ~Booklist

Excerpt
"Ideally, in giving up the sexual pursuit of women (whether as demons or as idealized vessels of purity), the male celibate learns to relate to them as human beings. That many fail to do so, that the power structures of the Catholic church all but dictate failure in this regard, comes as no surprise. What is a surprise is what happens when it works. Once, after I’d spent a week in a monastery, I boarded a crowded Greyhound bus and took the first available seat. My seatmate, a man, soon engaged me in conversation, and it took me a while to realize that he wasn’t simply being friendly, he was coming on to me. I remember feeling foolish for being so slow to catch on. I remember thinking, 'No wonder this guy is acting so strange; he didn’t take a vow of celibacy.'

When it works, when men have truly given up the idea of possessing a woman, healing can occur. I once met a woman in a monastery guest house who had come there because she was pulling herself together after being raped, and said she needed to feel safe around men again. I’ve seen young monks astonish an obese and homely college student by listening to her with as much interest and respect as to her conventionally pretty roommate. On my fortieth birthday, as I happily blew out four candles on a cupcake ('one for each decade,' a monk in his twenties cheerfully proclaimed), I realized that I could enjoy growing old with these guys. They were helping me to blow away my fears of middle age."

Author Norris, Kathleen
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 385 pp.
Publisher Riverhead Books 1997
Browse these categories as well: Holy Woman and High Priestess, Western Prayer and Contemplation, The Church: Doctors, Saints and Mystics, Inspirational Poetry, Prose and Sacred Art, Spiritual Biography and Autobiography

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