Encountering Silence In Adolescence (Episode 2)

How do we encounter silence in our teen years? Alone, or with others? In the woods, or at a church? With a sense of ecstasy, or perhaps even a healthy dose of “adolescent angst”?

In this episode we continue the conversation about “meeting” silence in the days of our youth, this week focusing on our adolescence. Like in the previous episode, such encounters carry a variety of meanings and invitations into deeper reflection, including:

  • The relationship between silence, nature, solitude, and spirit (Spirit);
  • How silence can emerge out of even a noisy time in one’s life;
  • How silence transcends religion and spirituality to be a universal gift;
  • How silence can meet us even in unintended ways and settings;
  • The surprising way silence comes to us in mystical ways — and how even the most exalted mystical “experience” seems to carry its own challenges or difficulties;
  • Pondering the relationship between silence and questions.

I was immediately filled with questions, and I was immediately filled with, ‘Why? What did I just do? Why did I do it?’ and looking back upon that, to me, that was God in that experience — the questions; because I’ve always been a curious person, because God was in that mystery and the silence and the loneliness of that moment. — Cassidy Hall

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

Some of the albums Carl loved as a teenager include:

And while we didn’t mention them in this episode, our favorite monastic author and favorite documentary on silence always deserve a shout out:

It’s beyond words, there’s no way to describe this, but it really did make me feel that the world was a lot weirder than I thought it was, for the very first time, and I realized that my categories didn’t make sense… — Kevin Johnson

Photo by Cassidy Hall

Kevin Johnson is a university professor, writer, speaker, and retreat leader based in Connecticut.

Cassidy Hall is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker based in Los Angeles.

Carl McColman is an author, catechist, and retreat leader based in Atlanta.

Episode 2: Encountering Silence In Adolescence
Hosted by:
Kevin Johnson
Cassidy Hall and Carl McColman
Date Recorded:
October 10, 2017

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Carl McColman
Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.


  1. Just a brief comment with regards to all of you attempting to describe your various, mystical experiences. I may be mistaken, but although you used great descriptors such as “presence,” “mystery,” “light,” etc., neither of you expressed your experiences as ‘love’ and/or ‘peace (peacefulness)’. However, both of these aspects were paramount when I had my most certain ‘mystical experience(s)’.

    Enjoyed the podcast!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Paul. I certainly cannot speak for Cassidy or Kevin, but I can attest that my encounters with silence have been both serene and profoundly loving. I think the problem is, there are no words adequate to describe what it truly means to encounter silence, so almost anything we say will always leave so much unsaid.

      Glad you’re enjoying the podcast — thanks for listening.

    2. Great note, Paul Anthony. I concur with Carl on this and also with you in that those words are just as important if not more so as I feel love is the ultimate description of any “mystical experience” and/or silence encounter.

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