Sarah Lund: Silence and Mental Illness in the Church (Part One)

The Reverend Doctor Sarah Griffith Lund is the author of Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence about Mental Illness, Family and Church. She is an ordained minister and has served as pastor to churches in Brooklyn, NY, Minneapolis, MN, and New Smyrna Beach, FL. She holds degrees from Trinity University, Princeton Theological Seminary, Rutgers University, and McCormick Theological Seminary.

She is on the leadership team for Bethany Ecumenical Fellows, a mentoring program for young clergy, and serves as the Vice Chair for the United Church of Christ Mental Health Network. Dr. Lund received the Dell Award for Mental Health Education at the 30th General Synod of the UCC. She currently serves as a Vice President for Advancement at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, IN. You can get to know her better by reading her blog at www.sarahgriffithlund.com.

Here is a video produced to introduce readers to Blessed Are the Crazy.

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Episode 106: Silence, Mental Illness, and the Church: A Conversation with Sarah Griffith Lund (Part One)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman and Kevin Johnson
Guest: Sarah Griffith Lund
Date Recorded: April 14, 2020

Kaitlin Curtice: Silence, Faith, and Indigenous Culture (Part Two)

Kaitlin B. Curtice is a member of the Potawatomi Nation, as well as a Christian, public speaker, and poet. She is the author of Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God, which has been highly praised by Barbara Brown Taylor (“Kaitlin Curtice is one of the braver writers I know. She won’t smooth any edges for you, and she won’t let you change the subject, but she’ll support you digging as deeply for your roots as she has for hers.”) and Richard Rohr (“Curtice is a brave truth-teller and a prophetic voice we need to be listening to, and Native is a book that will guide us toward a better future”). Kaitlin is also the author of Glory Happening: Finding the Divine in Everyday Places.

This is part two of a two part episode. To listen to part one, click here.

She travels widely, speaking on matters of faith and justice within the church as it relates to indigenous peoples, and has been a featured speaker at conferences such as Why Christian, Evolving Faith, the Wild Goose, and the Festival of Faith and Writing. Kaitlin B. Curtice is a monthly columnist for Sojourners, has contributed to On Being and Religious News Service, and has been featured on CBS and in USA Today and the New Yorker for her work on having difficult conversations within the church about colonization. You can learn more about her and explore her blog at www.kaitlincurtice.com.

You don’t have to have children to believe in the next generation. We all should be caretakers of each other’s children, no matter who we are. — Kaitlin B. Curtice

Universally, as humans, we belong to the earth… as children, we are born with this longing to connect to the earth… we have to take ourselves  — Kaitlin B. Curtice

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Episode 105: Silence, Faith, and Indigenous Culture: A Conversation with Kaitlin B. Curtice (Part Two)
Hosted by: Carl McColman
With: Cassidy Hall and Kevin Johnson
Guest: Kaitlin B. Curtice
Date Recorded: April 20, 2020

Featured photo by Srikanth Peetha on Unsplash.

Kaitlin Curtice: Silence, Faith, and Indigenous Culture (Part One)

Kaitlin B. Curtice is a member of the Potawatomi Nation, as well as a Christian, public speaker, and poet. She is the author of Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God, which has been highly praised by Barbara Brown Taylor (“Kaitlin Curtice is one of the braver writers I know. She won’t smooth any edges for you, and she won’t let you change the subject, but she’ll support you digging as deeply for your roots as she has for hers.”) and Richard Rohr (“Curtice is a brave truth-teller and a prophetic voice we need to be listening to, and Native is a book that will guide us toward a better future”). Kaitlin is also the author of Glory Happening: Finding the Divine in Everyday Places.

This is part one of a two part episode. Part Two will be released on June 22, 2020.

She travels widely, speaking on matters of faith and justice within the church as it relates to indigenous peoples, and has been a featured speaker at conferences such as Why Christian, Evolving Faith, the Wild Goose, and the Festival of Faith and Writing. Kaitlin B. Curtice is a monthly columnist for Sojourners, has contributed to On Being and Religious News Service, and has been featured on CBS and in USA Today and the New Yorker for her work on having difficult conversations within the church about colonization. You can learn more about her and explore her blog at www.kaitlincurtice.com.

If my identity as an indigenous person matters, whatever my spirituality is… it has to be tied to breaking apart systems of colonization if I’m going to be a person that is made to love others. — Kaitlin B. Curtice

Being outside… isn’t perfect silence, but it’s silence with the sounds of what nature offers us, and I think that is a kind of silence, because it quiets us, and it allows us to hear something other than ourselves… that’s the deep well that I draw from. — Kaitlin B. Curtice

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Episode 104: Silence, Faith, and Indigenous Culture: A Conversation with Kaitlin B. Curtice (Part One)
Hosted by: Carl McColman
With: Cassidy Hall and Kevin Johnson
Guest: Kaitlin B. Curtice
Date Recorded: April 20, 2020

Featured photo by Karim Sakhibgareev on Unsplash.

Lerita Coleman Brown, PhD: Silence, the Disinherited, and the Wisdom of Howard Thurman for Our Time

One of the first guests on this podcast was Dr. Lerita Coleman Brown, who joined us on our episode #9 in 2018. Today we are delighted to welcome her back to the podcast. You can hear Professor Brown’s previous conversation with us here.

Lerita Coleman Brown, PhD is the author of When the Heart Speaks, Listen: Discovering Inner Wisdom, detailing her remarkable spiritual journey as a heart transplant recipient. She has also contributed essays to books including Embodied Spirits: Stories of Spiritual Directors of Color, Living Into God’s Dream: Dismantling Racism in America, and Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around — Stories of Contemplation and Justice.

Professor Brown is the Ayse I. Carden Distinguished Professor Emerita of Psychology at Agnes Scott College. She has survived over 25 years with her transplanted heart, and 14 years with a transplanted kidney as well. She has also endured a heart valve replacement and a pacemaker implant. In addition to her work as a psychologist and educator, she is a spiritual director and retreat leader who often shares her love for the contemplative wisdom of the renowned African-American mystic, Howard Thurman. You can learn more about her online at www.peaceforhearts.com.

Our answers are in the silence. — Lerita Coleman Brown, PhD

Given the extraordinary moment that we find ourselves in, and especially our commitment here at the podcast not only to celebrate the gift of silence (and to dismantle all forms of toxic silence, including racism), it seemed natural to invite Lerita back — not only for her insight into the towering contemplative genius of Thurman, but also for her own perceptive words of wisdom about how we can spiritually navigate the urgency for fighting racism and other forms of injustice in our time.

One of the problems with white and black is that they’re totally constructed sociopolitical identities… disinherited people have no protection from the state. — Lerita Coleman Brown, PhD

Dr. Lerita Coleman Brown with 2/3 of Encountering Silence. Left: with Cassidy at the Wild Goose Festival, 2019. Right: with Carl, 2018. (photos by Cassidy Hall and Fran McColman)

You’ve got to be able to center down and feel that sense of renewal from the Spirit, and I think it’s really important to learn to listen… We’re all called to do something to help restore God’s beloved creation… Every single person has a role to play. What is your role in this? — Lerita Coleman Brown, PhD

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Find Dr. Lerita Coleman Brown online at her website, www.peaceforhearts.com.

To learn more about Howard Thurman (and to hear online audio files of his sermons), visit the website for the Howard and Sue Bailey Thurman Center at Boston University.

Episode 103: Silence, the Disinherited, and the Wisdom of Howard Thurman for Our Time: A Conversation with Dr. Lerita Coleman Brown
Hosted by: Carl McColman
With: Cassidy Hall and Kevin Johnson
Guest: Lerita Coleman Brown, PhD
Date Recorded: June 5, 2020

Featured photo by Cassidy Hall.

Kerry Connelly: Silence, Privilege, and Dismantling Racism (Part Two)

This episode continues our conversation with blogger/activist Kerry Connelly. As in part one of this interview, we explore one of the most pervasive forms of toxic silence in our culture: the silence embedded in white privilege and systemic racism.

Kerry Connelly is a writer, certified life coach, creator of the no-nonsense blog Jerseygirl, JESUS, and host of the “White on White” podcast, which reimagines white identity apart from the dead end of pseudo-supremacy.

This is part two of a two-part episode. To listen to part one, click here.

Her latest book is Good White Racist? Confronting Your Role in Racial Injustice. Kerry Connelly is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity at Christian Theological Seminary (where she first met Cassidy Hall). She lives in New Jersey with her family.

I have to always be aware, practice awareness of who’s in the room, what’s happening, and what might be my call as a white anti-racist in that particular context, and it’s not always going to be the same, there’s not one answer. — Kerry Connelly

Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza (who has also been a guest on this podcast) praised Good White Racist? by saying, “The work that needs to be done is white-on-white race talk. By that I mean, white folks talking to white folks about the ways white supremacy is internalized and therefore shows up in their social practice. Kerry endeavors to do just this, and I think we all should invest our time in this book!”

I don’t recommend getting involved with Jesus if you don’t want to be radically challenged… I can’t be in relationship with Jesus and then be permitted to go about propping up the status quo. — Kerry Connelly

Some of the resources and authors mentioned in this episode:

Find Kerry Connelly at www.kerryconnelly.com.

I wonder what it must have been like, to have been Jesus, and be embodied in the way Jesus was embodied, and then experience that kind of silence in the desert… to be in that place, and to think about silence in that context, is a little mind-blowing. — Kerry Connelly

Episode 102: Silence, Privilege, and Dismantling Racism: A Conversation with Kerry Connelly (Part Two)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Kevin Johnson, Carl McColman
Guest: Kerry Connelly
Date Recorded: April 13, 2020

Featured image photo by Cassidy Hall.

Kerry Connelly: Silence, Privilege, and Dismantling Racism (Part One)

On this podcast we often explore the toxic side of silence. In this episode we explore one of the most pervasive forms of toxic silence in our culture: the silence embedded in white privilege and systemic racism. Guiding us in this exploration is author Kerry Connelly.

Kerry Connelly is a writer, certified life coach, creator of the no-nonsense blog Jerseygirl, JESUS, and host of the “White on White” podcast, which reimagines white identity apart from the dead end of pseudo-supremacy.

Her latest book is Good White Racist? Confronting Your Role in Racial Injustice. Kerry Connelly is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity at Christian Theological Seminary (where she first met Cassidy Hall). She lives in New Jersey with her family.

I am much more of an actor, a doer, a go out and push — and that’s something that I have to work to heal a little bit in myself, through silence. — Kerry Connelly

Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza (who has also been a guest on this podcast) praised Good White Racist? by saying, “The work that needs to be done is white-on-white race talk. By that I mean, white folks talking to white folks about the ways white supremacy is internalized and therefore shows up in their social practice. Kerry endeavors to do just this, and I think we all should invest our time in this book!”

This is part one of a two-part episode. Click here to listen to part two.

A systemic example of white silence is, for example, the way that we as a society will gaslight people of color who are trying to call out racism, and the Take a Knee movement is a great example of that. The Take a Knee movement is a perfect example of people of color attempting to peacefully bring attention to a very specific result of systemic racism in our country, which is police brutality, and white people will talk about everything but the issue at hand — we will talk about the flag, we will talk about our soldiers, we will talk about national pride, we will talk about patriotism… but we refuse, we insist upon remaining silent about discussing the actual problem. — Kerry Connelly

Some of the resources and authors mentioned in this episode:

For white people to find our meaning, and to find our essence of being apart from this construct of pseudo-supremacy, that’s the real work that white people have to do. Because until we can do that, we’re never going to be truly willing to dismantle racist systems. — Kerry Connelly

Episode 101: Silence, Privilege, and Dismantling Racism (Part One): A Conversation with Kerry Connelly (Part One)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Kevin Johnson, Carl McColman
Guest: Kerry Connelly
Date Recorded: April 13, 2020

Featured photo: George Washington Bridge, photo by James Ting on Unsplash.

Kathleen Norris: Silence, Acedia, and Pandemic (Part Two)

This week’s episode — our 100th overall, not counting our “pilot episode” — features the conclusion of Kathleen Norris’s second conversation with Encountering Silence.

Kathleen Norris is the award-winning poet, writer, and author of The New York Times bestsellers The Cloister Walk, Acedia and Me, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, Amazing Grace and The Virgin of Bennington. She’s also published seven books of poetry, her first being the 1971 Big Table Younger Poets award-winning  Falling Off.

I provide myself with enough chocolate to keep going. — Kathleen Norris

Kathleen’s work explores the spiritual life with an intimate and historical perspective. Cassiday notes, “Her book Acedia & me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life accompanied me in the most beautiful ways a book ever has and truly changed my life—and it remains among my top 3 favorite books alongside Thomas Merton and Mary Oliver. I wept through the book feeling more understood and clear-headed about my own spiritual journey than ever before.”

This is part two of a two-part episode. Click here to listen to part one.

I’ll never forget, I was talking to an Episcopal nun; when I told her I was writing a book about acedia, she said, ‘Well you know, you’ve taken on the devil himself.’ And now that I’ve finished that book, I know exactly what she meant. She was absolutely right about that. The crazy thing is that her comment didn’t stop me, I just kept going with it. — Kathleen Norris

Amid the pandemic Kathleen shared some recent work on the National Catholic Reporter, offering tips for coping with acedia amid this time of slowing down and staying in. She writes, “I recognize acedia when it does turn up. Being forced to stay still is a breeding ground….It’s the feeling of being totally bored and totally restless. It’s a horrible combination… It isn’t just depression. It isn’t just boredom. It’s a lot of things.”

Widowed in 2003, Kathleen is no stranger to living alone. She now divides her time between South Dakota and Honolulu, Hawaii.

In our previous conversation with Kathleen in 2018, she had this to say:

Silence sometimes shows you what you’re really suffering from… just to sit there and let the silence sink in, and often that’s when you discover what it is you’re really worried about, what you’re really suffering from, what your real concerns are, because when you’re busy in the world either with activity or a lot of verbal stuff going on, you’re ignoring some of those deeper things, and sitting in silence for a while, it will start to surface.

Some of the resources and authors mentioned in this episode:

Episode 100: Silence, Acedia and Pandemic: A Conversation with Kathleen Norris (Part Two)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Kevin Johnson, Carl McColman
Guest: Kathleen Norris
Date Recorded: April 27, 2020

Kathleen Norris: Silence, Acedia, and Pandemic (Part One)

Our returning guest Kathleen Norris is the award-winning poet, writer, and author of The New York Times bestsellers The Cloister Walk, Acedia and Me, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, Amazing Grace, and The Virgin of Bennington. She’s also published seven books of poetry, her first being the 1971 Big Table Younger Poets award-winning Falling Off.

Kathleen’s work explores the spiritual life with an intimate and historical perspective. Cassidy notes, “Her book Acedia & me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life accompanied me in the most beautiful ways a book ever has and truly changed my life—and it remains among my top 3 favorite books alongside Thomas Merton and Mary Oliver. I wept through the book feeling more understood and clear-headed about my own spiritual journey than ever before.”

This is part one of a two-part interview. Click here to listen to part two.

Amid the pandemic Kathleen shared some recent work on the National Catholic Reporter, offering tips for coping with acedia amid this time of slowing down and staying in. She writes, “I recognize acedia when it does turn up. Being forced to stay still is a breeding ground….It’s the feeling of being totally bored and totally restless. It’s a horrible combination… It isn’t just depression. It isn’t just boredom. It’s a lot of things.”

Acedia is a bad thought, it’s a passion that is opportunistic, just like this virus. It will strike just when we’re at a low point, our immune system is down, because we’re feeling anxious and tired and restless and bored and sad about how things used to be — and all of those things are classic signs of acedia. — Kathleen Norris

Widowed in 2003, Kathleen is no stranger to living alone. She now divides her time between South Dakota and Honolulu, Hawaii.

Silence sometimes shows you what you’re really suffering from… just to sit there and let the silence sink in, and often that’s when you discover what it is you’re really worried about, what you’re really suffering from, what your real concerns are, because when you’re busy in the world either with activity or a lot of verbal stuff going on, you’re ignoring some of those deeper things, and sitting in silence for a while, it will start to surface. — Kathleen Norris

Some of the resources and authors mentioned in this episode:

The opposite of acedia is love. So that if you can work your way through acedia, stagger through all of those bad thoughts that are telling you that nothing matters, and reconnect with other people, realizing who you love and doing what love requires … that is one way we can fight our way through acedia. — Kathleen Norris

Episode 99: Silence, Acedia and Pandemic: A Conversation with Kathleen Norris (Part One)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Kevin Johnson, Carl McColman
Guest: Kathleen Norris
Date Recorded: April 27, 2020

In Pursuit of Silence, Earth Day, and the Dawn Chorus (Episode 98)

To honor the 50th Anniversary of the first Earth Day, and in recognition of the continuing challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Encountering Silence‘s own Cassidy Hall joins with her colleague at Transcendental Media, Patrick Shen, to announce two special, limited-time opportunities:

For today’s episode of the podcast, Patrick joins us to speak about the movie, how its message is more important than ever in our world today, and offers some insight into new initiatives he is working on, including a collaborative film project celebrating silence at the break of day called the Dawn Chorus.

If we could all learn the work of silence we’d take an awful lot of pressure off of our planet, in terms of ecology, because we wouldn’t be addicted to consumption. And, we wouldn’t be wasting what we waste. … there wouldn’t be this constant seeking seeking seeking for something else to fill up that empty space, when what will fill up the empty space is actually going into the empty space. Again, it’s a paradox. To fill up that empty space, you need to go into the spaciousness of your silence that lives in your heart. 

— Maggie Ross

Meme recently seen on Facebook, which Carl alludes to in this episode.

…The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone and everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful….  —Thomas Merton

To hear our previous episodes featuring Patrick Shen, click here and here.

A lot of the white noise of the world has fallen away, many of us are hearing our own voices for the first time, we’re certainly much louder than before, and I think the film provides some helpful context. — Patrick Shen

Some of the resources and authors mentioned in this episode:

Episode 98: In Pursuit of Silence, Earth Day, and the Dawn Chorus: A Conversation with Patrick Shen
Hosted by: Kevin Johnson
With: Cassidy Hall, Carl McColman
Guest: Patrick Shen
Date Recorded: April 20, 2020

Mike Morrell: Silence in the Divine Dance (Part Two)

Mike Morrell may be best known as the collaborating author, with Richard Rohr, of The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation. Mike was involved with the founding of the Wild Goose Festival, a justice, arts and spirituality gathering that takes place each July in western North Carolina; he is also the founder of the Wisdom Camp, which takes place each year just before the Wild Goose.

This is the second part of our conversation with Mike. To hear the first part, click here.

Mike curates contemplative and community experiences through programs such as Relational Skills and ReWilder, wherein he joyfully holds the space for the extraordinary transformation that can take place at the intersection of anticipation, imagination, and radical acceptance. Mike lives with his wife and two daughters in Asheville, North Carolina. To learn more about Mike’s ongoing exploration of Spirit, Culture, and Permaculture, visit his blog at MikeMorrell.org

For me, the choice to be trinitarian is actually to be the most inclusive possible of the many sedimentary layers of our spiritual past… the trinity is a way of saying that unity is not uniformity, oneness is not conformity. — Mike Morrell

Most of our religious discussions are taking place in an eyeblink of geological time. That’s not to invalidate them, but it is to give them a certain healthy sense of proportion and humility. — Mike Morrell

Some of the Resources and Authors We Mention In This Episode:

“Secrets,” the poem Mike read, is by Simona Chitescu Weik. Connect with her on Instagram: www.instagram.com/simonaisabella/

Episode 97: Silence in the Divine Dance: A Conversation with Mike Morrell (Part Two)
Hosted by: Carl McColman
With: Cassidy Hall, Kevin Johnson
Guest: Mike Morrell
Date Recorded: April 7, 2020

Mike Morrell: Silence in the Divine Dance (Part One)

Mike Morrell may be best known as the collaborating author, with Richard Rohr, of The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation. Mike was involved with the founding of the Wild Goose Festival, a justice, arts and spirituality gathering that takes place each July in western North Carolina; he is also the founder of the Wisdom Camp, which takes place each year just before the Wild Goose.

Mike curates contemplative and community experiences through programs such as Relational Skills and ReWilder, wherein he joyfully holds the space for the extraordinary transformation that can take place at the intersection of anticipation, imagination, and radical acceptance. Mike lives with his wife and two daughters in Asheville, North Carolina. To learn more about Mike’s ongoing exploration of Spirit, Culture, and Permaculture, visit his blog at MikeMorrell.org

Going with these possibilities of different stages of consciousness, it might very well be that what grates against me initially really has a gift in there for me if I stick to it. That’s what I experience when I continue to return to that interior silence in order to experience the fellowship of God and the communion of saints. — Mike Morrell

There are many different qualities of silence, as we all know — there’s the awkward silences, the uncomfortable silences… and then there’s a silence of unconditional presence and spacious regard, the possibility of anything happening. — Mike Morrell

This is part one of a two-part episode. Click here to listen to part two.

Some of the Resources and Authors We Mention In This Episode:

We’re supposed to be ministers of reconciliation, you know, but sometimes I think we rush to that before we even know what it means, because our consciousness is not keeping up with our vocabulary. I think so many religious folks have very lofty vocabulary but without the consciousness, the being, the heart cultivated, that can become a very dangerous weapon. — Mike Morrell

Episode 96: Silence in the Divine Dance: A Conversation with Mike Morrell (Part One)
Hosted by: Carl McColman
With: Cassidy Hall, Kevin Johnson
Guest: Mike Morrell
Date Recorded: April 7, 2020

Christine Valters Paintner: Wild Silence and the Cloister of the Earth (Part Two)

Our conversation with Christine Valters Paintner concludes with this episode.

Christine is the online abbess for Abbey of the Arts, a virtual monastery offering programs and resources on contemplative practice and creative expression. She is the author of thirteen books on monasticism and creativity, including her most recent Earth, Our Original Monastery and her second collection of poems forthcoming this fall, The Wisdom of Wild Grace.

Wild, for me, is breaking beyond the confines of the limits of our imagination… wild, for me, is a doorway into this more expansive image of the Divine… wild, for me, is this understanding of the great Mystery that is. You can’t commodify wild or mystery, you can’t define it; this gift of wildness also asks us to access our intuitive knowing and our embodied knowing, as well. — Christine Valters Paintner

She leads writing retreats and pilgrimages in Ireland, Scotland, Austria, and Germany and online retreats at her website AbbeyoftheArts.com, living out her commitment as a Benedictine Oblate in Galway, Ireland, with her husband, John.

Christine returns to Encountering Silence (click here to listen to her previous interview with us, from 2018) bringing her warm, wise and inclusive spirituality which encompasses deep contemplation with an inspiring commitment to creative expression.

This is part two of a two part episode. Click here to listen to part one.

Some of the Resources and Authors We Mention In This Episode:

Episode 95: Wild Silence and the Cloister of the Earth: A Conversation with Christine Valters Paintner (Part Two)
Hosted by: Carl McColman
With: Cassidy Hall, Kevin Johnson
Date Recorded: March 30, 2020

Featured image photo credit: Burren/Seashore Photo by Gabriel Ramos on Unsplash.

Christine Valters Paintner: Wild Silence and the Cloister of the Earth (Part One)

Christine Valters Paintner is the online abbess for Abbey of the Arts, a virtual monastery offering programs and resources on contemplative practice and creative expression. She is the author of thirteen books on monasticism and creativity, including her most recent Earth, Our Original Monastery and her second collection of poems forthcoming this fall, The Wisdom of Wild Grace.

This is part one of a two part episode. To listen to part two, click here.

Earth is the place where we learn our most fundamental prayers, hear the call of the wild arising at dawn to awaken us to a new day, participate in the primal liturgy of praise unfolding all around us, and experience the wisdom and guidance of the seasons. — Christine Valters Paintner, Earth: Our Original Monastery

She leads writing retreats and pilgrimages in Ireland, Scotland, Austria, and Germany and online retreats at her website AbbeyoftheArts.com, living out her commitment as a Benedictine Oblate in Galway, Ireland, with her husband, John.

Christine returns to Encountering Silence (click here to listen to her previous interview with us, from 2018) bringing her warm, wise and inclusive spirituality which encompasses deep contemplation with an inspiring commitment to creative expression.

Everything in creation becomes a catalyst for my deepened self-understanding. The forest asks me to embrace my truth once again. The hummingbird invites me to sip holy nectar, the egret to stretch out my wings, the sparrows to remember my flock. Each pine cone contains an epiphany; each smooth stone offers a revelation. I watch and witness as the sun slowly makes her long arc across the sky and discover my own rising and falling. The moon will sing of quiet miracles, like those which reveal and conceal the world every day right before our eyes.  — Christine Valters Paintner, Earth: Our Original Monastery

Some of the Resources and Authors We Mention In This Episode:

Episode 94: Wild Silence and the Cloister of the Earth: A Conversation with Christine Valters Paintner (Part One)
Hosted by: Carl McColman
With: Cassidy Hall, Kevin Johnson
Date Recorded: March 30, 2020

Featured photo credit: Kilmacduagh Monastery photograph by Carl McColman, copyright 2002.

Encountering Silence in Times of Crisis

This week the Encountering Silence podcast features just the three of us — Cassidy, Kevin and Carl — reflecting on this extraordinary moment we find ourselves in.

Recorded on March 24, 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, naturally we are reflecting on the spirituality of silence and solitude while much of the world has embraced the necessity of sheltering-at-home and social distancing in order to slow the spread of the virus.

But we also recognize that the challenges we are collectively facing during this pandemic could have parallels in almost any crisis situation — any time when life’s circumstances present us with situations where we recognize we are not fully in control, we are faced with silence and solitude that may not be of our own choosing, and we are invited to recognize how important it is to embrace our common humanity and relatedness to one another.

Silence is all about releasing control, and all about letting go and being, and melting into this vision of unity… this collective common good, this oneness. — Cassidy Hall

Carl, Cassidy, and Kevin

You’ve been trained, your whole life, to focus on thinking, words, achievement, doing… so now when you having something like silence and stillness, we don’t have places for that in our culture, forced upon you… well, it’s a struggle, because you’re fighting a habit. — Kevin Johnson

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

At the end of the episode, Cassidy quotes from the wonderful poem “Stay Home” by Wendell Berry. Here is a recording in which Berry reads his own poem, followed by a musical setting of it, from the CD Celebrating Wendell Berry in Music.

Silence and solitude and stillness and contemplation do not exist just to facilitate action. There is a place in which silence and solitude and stillness exist simply because they are good and they are necessary. — Carl McColman

Episode 93: Encountering Silence in  Times of Crisis
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman, Kevin Johnson
Date Recorded: March 24, 2020

Featured image: Photo by Amelie & Niklas Ohlrogge on Unsplash.

Pádraig Ó Tuama: Silence, Poetry, and Conflict Resolution (Part Two)

Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet, theologian, and conflict mediator, who brings interests in language, violence and religion to his work. He is the Poet Laureate and Theologian in Residence for the On Being project, and hosts the Poetry Unbound podcast. He was formerly the leader of the Corrymeela Community (Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation community), and is the author of four books, including Readings from the Book of Exile, Sorry For Your Troubles, In the Shelter: Finding a Home In the World and Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community.

In this episode not only does Pádraig share some thoughts of some of his favorite poets and other authors, but he also offers detailed advice for the beginning writer of poetry.

This is part two of a two-part episode. To listen to part one, click here.

It is mostly poets that I turn to for theology. — Pádraig Ó Tuama

Pádraig Ó Tuama with Carl McColman in Northern Ireland, Summer 2010

 

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

There’s something about the space of loneliness and silence in writing something and wondering, ‘Will this stand the test of time?’ I know poets who won’t show a poem to anyone before it’s sat for a year, some editing, etc., but that they need it to distill, like whisky, that it needs to have that kind of a quality to it. — Pádraig Ó Tuama

Episode 92: Silence, Poetry, and Conflict Resolution: A Conversation with Pádraig Ó Tuama (Part Two)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman, Kevin Johnson
Guest: Pádraig Ó Tuama
Date Recorded: February 17, 2020

Featured image photo by Yves Alarie on Unsplash.