Synopses & Reviews
Part memoir, part meditation, The Cloister Walk is the movingly written and thought-provoking record of a married, Protestant woman's time spent in a community of men in a traditional Benedictine monastery in Minnesota. Any reader seeking a meaningful life not necessarily a religious one will be inspired by author Kathleen Norris's experiences among monks who, while so little understood in our society, are admirable bearers of tradition, incorporating in their lives the values of stability, silence, and humility that we so desperately need, yet relentlessly avoid. An award-winning poet, Kathleen Norris brings her appreciation for language and metaphor to the reading of Bible, especially the psalms, and shares the way she slowly, sometimes painfully, "let words work the earth of her heart." Gradually she learns much about simplicity, patience, forgiveness, the value of community, and the responsibility of freedom. It is in the sanctuary of the cloister that she at last achieves healing finding peace in her sometimes troubled marriage and gaining a new understanding of her challenging life in the outside world. Above all, she discovers the force of spirituality and the beneficial change it can effect that "love can be the center of all things, if only we will keep it there."
"It is one of the graces of our time that the best of our contemporary spiritual writers are women who are also poets....Among [them] one must include, conspicuously, Kathleen Norris who can bring alive the old desert fathers and mothers, the saints of the calendar, the idiosyncracies of community life, the travails of small-town living, the joys and pains of marriage and old age." Lawrence S. Cunningham, Commonweal
"Norris, herself a poet, draws many parallels between the monastic and the poet, both of whom are fine-tuned to see the sacred potential in all things." Barbara J. Vaughan, Library Journal
"A strange and beautiful book...Part memoir, part meditation, it is a remarkable piece of writing." The Boston Globe
"The Cloister Walk is a new opportunity to discover a remarkable writer with a huge, wise heart...Norris resonates deeply for a lot of people: She's one of those writers who demands to be handed around." Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"She writes about religion with the imagination of a poet...The story of her faith is attractively incongruous, and more than a little receptive to rebellion...Some bridling is worth it to a reader when the writer is as original as Norris, a Midwestern, late-20th-century mystic." Molly McQuade, Chicago Tribune
"With her lucid, luminous prose, hard-headed logic, and far-reaching metaphors, Norris has brought us the cloister at its most alive." San Francisco Chronicle
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER AND NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR
Vivid, compelling... An embrace of moral and spiritual contemplation. The New York Times
A remarkable piece of writing. If read with humility and attention, Kathleen Norris's book becomes lectio divina, or holy reading. The Boston Globe
From the iconic author of Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, a spiritual journey that brings joy to the meanings of love, grace and faith.
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? This is the question that poet Kathleen Norris asks us as, somewhat to her own surprise, she found herself on two extended residencies at St. John's Abbey in Minnesota.
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. In this stirring and lyrical work, the monastery, often considered archaic or otherworldly, becomes immediate, accessible, and relevant to us, no matter what our faith may be.
The New York Times bestseller by the author of Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. After spending two extended residences at a Benedictine monastery, Kathleen Norris takes readers through one liturgical year--its rituals, its prayers, its daily activities. Through her accessible prose, a seemingly archaic world becomes immediate, accessible, and relevant to people of all faiths.
A New York Times
bestseller for 23 weeks
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
"A strange and beautiful book...Part memoir, part meditation, it is a remarkable piece of writing." -The Boston Globe
"The Cloister Walk is a new opportunity to discover a remarkable writer with a huge, wise heart...Norris resonates deeply for a lot of people: She's one of those writers who demands to be handed around. You want to share this great discovery, giving her work as a gift3/4or you simply shove a copy in the face of a friend, saying 'Read this.'" -Minneapolis Star-Tribune
About the Author
Kathleen Norris is an award-winning poet and the author of Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, as well as three volumes of poetry, the most recent of them Little Girls in Church. A recipient of grants from the Bush and Guggenheim foundations, she has been in residence twice at the Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural research at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, and has been, for ten years, an oblate of Assumption Abbey in North Dakota. She and her husband live in South Dakota.
Table of Contents
September 3: Gregory the Great
St. John's Abbey Liturgy Schedule
The Rule and Me
September 17: Hildegard of Bingen
September 29: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Archangels
September 30: Jerome
October 1: Thérèse of the Child Jesus
October 2: Guardian Angels
Jeremiah as Writer: The Necessary Other
November 1 and 2: All Saints, All Souls
November 16: Gertrude the Great
Exile, Homeland, and Negative Capability
New York City: The Trappist Connection
Los Angeles: The O Antiphons
The Christmas Music
January 2: Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzus
The Paradox of the Psalms
Baptism of the Lord: A Tale of Intimacy
January 10: Gregory of Nyssa
February 2: Candlemas/Presentation of the Lord
February 10: Scholastica
Good Old Sin
New Melleray Abbey Liturgy Schedule
Chicago: Religion in America
The War on Metaphor
March 18: Mechtild of Magdeburg
April 2: Mary of Egypt
Saved by a Rockette: Easters I Have Known
Triduum: The Three Days
Cinderella in Kalamazoo
The Virgin Martyrs: Between "Point Vierge" and the "Usual Spring"
Minneapolis: Cocktails with Simon Tugwell
May 15: Emily Dickinson
Maria Goretti: Cipher or Saint?
Places and Displacement: Rattlesnakes in Cyberspace
Learning to Love: Benedictine Women on Celibacy and Relationship
The Cloister Walk
The Church and the Sermon
June 9: Ephrem the Syrian
Small Town Sunday Morning
At Last, Her Laundry's Done
Dreaming of Trees
Monks and Women
July 11: Benedict's Cave
A Glorious Robe
Women and the Habit: A Not-so-glorious Dilemma
The Gregorian Brain
August 28: Augustine
The Lands of Sunrise and Sunset
The Nursing Home on Sunday Afternoon
One Man's Life
"It's a Sweet Life"
Coming and Going: Monastic Rituals
"The Rest of the Community"
"The Only City in America"