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

Take a second to support the Encountering Silence Podcast on Patreon!
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.

2 Comments

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *