Encountering Silence explores the beauty and importance of silence from many angles, not just the religious/spiritual/mystical, but also reflecting on the psychology of silence, silence and the arts, silence and politics, silence and education… the list goes on. For a topic that we often don’t devote a lot of time and energy to, silence certainly has an important (if quiet!) role in all our lives.
Carl McColman is a contemplative writer, speaker, retreat leader, catechist and spiritual companion. His books include Befriending Silence, Answering the Contemplative Call, and The Big Book of Christian Mysticism. Carl is a life-professed Lay Cistercian (a layperson under formal spiritual guidance of Cistercian monks) affiliated with the Trappist Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. He also received formation in the practice of Christian spirituality and contemplative leadership through the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation.
Carl and his wife, Fran, are the co-directors of the RCIA process at their parish in Decatur, GA. He regularly leads retreats and speaks on the contemplative life at monasteries, retreat centers, cathedrals, parishes and seminaries. His ministry is ecumenical in scope, and he has also participated in a number of interfaith initiatives.
To learn more about Carl and his writing, visit his website, www.carlmccolman.net.
Cassidy Hall is a writer, photographer, filmmaker and trained counselor. Cassidy’s writing is featured on The Huffington Post, Patheos and her website, www.cassidyhall.com
In 2012, while working as a counselor and reading Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation, Cassidy quit her job and took a pilgrimage to all seventeen Trappist/Cistercian Monasteries of the United States. Cassidy wrote, transcribed interviews, and photographed her entire experience at these seventeen spaces — talking with monks and nuns about silence, solitude, and contemplative life.
Born and raised in Iowa, Cassidy re-routed to Los Angeles in 2013 to work as a Co-Producer on the documentary feature film In Pursuit of Silence. The film’s success on the festival circuit and beyond has led to its theatrical release worldwide. Her quest for silence was profiled in the Des Moines Register by Mike Kilen.
Most recently, Cassidy was named as Secretary on the International Thomas Merton Society board for the 2017-2019 cycle and was added to the editorial staff of the Wilbur Award-Winning Blog, Sick Pilgrim.
Her pilgrimage of life has continued with visits to other sacred spaces, monasteries, various contemplative locations, and the infinite interior spaciousness within. This ongoing pilgrimage has informed her writing, art, her personal life, and her way of being.
Kevin M. Johnson is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and retreat director who often finds himself crossing boundaries into liminal spaces. A university professor, he jokingly refers to himself as “a recovering academic” who teaches online and in various settings outside the university. Trained in religious and philosophical thinking and research, he often engages in teaching and lecturing in corporate and professional environments. His writing appears at the online blogs Daily Theology and Patheos as well as on his own web site at his web site called The End of Words at www.kevinmichaeljohnson.com.
The focus of his work is the recovery of Silence as a way of deeply engaging the world, fostering holistic wellness, and cultivating wisdom. He is available for presentations and talks as well as to run retreats.
Kevin is an adjunct professor at Sacred heart University in CT who also runs a Roman Catholic nonprofit organization called The Inner Room that focuses on silent prayer and Catholic Social Teaching. In November 2016, Kevin was elected as Vice-President of North America for the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs Pax Romana, an international network of lay Catholics. In April of 2017 he became a member of the Advisory board to One Square Inch of Silence, a sanctuary for Silence at Olympic National Park in Washington State. He lives on the CT shoreline with his wife and three kids.
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