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

Encountering Silence in Childhood (Episode 1)

What do you remember about encountering silence in your childhood?

In this episode we explore our first memories of “meeting” silence in childhood, moments in time where, whether in solitude or with others, whether near or far from home, whether shaped by emotional confusion or a sense of simply being present, something graced and mysterious intruded upon our awareness and brought us face to face, not only with the beauty of silence, but also with the mystery of our own deepest and truest selves.

From a lakeside in Virginia, to a Connecticut playground, to a prairie in Iowa, each of our memories involves being out-of-doors. And each of us struggles to put into words what ultimately seems to remain elusive, beyond what language can contain.

I all of a sudden felt extremely safe, completely at home, and there was a sense of I was much bigger than my body, that like somehow I was more than what I thought I was, and… I guess the word is ‘presence,’ a sense of that I just felt very — that there was something, there was more there than me.
— Kevin Johnson

As our conversation weaves in and around our shared, remembered moments of encounter, we talk about what it means to be present in our bodies, a sense of timelessness or eternity that sometimes seems to accompany the encounter with silence, and the dance of deep feeling, “not-knowing,” and longing that shaped our most profound moments of silence — even at a very early age.

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

Margery (aka “Carl’s cat”)

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 1: Encountering Silence in Childhood
Hosted by:
Cassidy Hall
Carl McColman and Kevin Johnson
Date Recorded:
October 2, 2017

Thomas Merton on Silence

Photo by Cassidy Hall, from The Cloisters station on the A Train in Manhattan. Poetry, of course, by Thomas Merton.

Encountering Silence releases our first episode tomorrow!

Meet the Hosts of Encountering Silence (Pilot Episode)

Meet Kevin Johnson, Cassidy Hall, and Carl McColman. We are the hosts and co-creators of Encountering Silence.

This podcast emerged from our friendship, the friendship of three people with a shared interest in the many important ways silence makes a difference our lives — looking at silence in terms of spirituality, of health, of art and aesthetics, of psychology and wisdom. Silence matters, and yet it is a difficult topic to talk about, let alone to deeply and truly understand.

We realize that “talking about silence” is paradoxical, and yet we think it’s also vital, especially given how increasingly noisy our society is. We hope that this pilot episode represents the first few words in an ongoing conversation about what silence is, why silence matters, and how we can all learn to encounter silence more truly and deeply.

Some of the resources we mention in this episode:

Our dream for this podcast is to make connections — with people everywhere who love silence, who seek more silence in our lives, who wish to understand and appreciate more fully and be able to speak of the gift of silence in our lives more beautifully. We hope you will connect with us, not only by subscribing to the podcast through iTunes or Google Play, but also by connecting with us via our Facebook Page or Twitter. Thank you.

Kevin Johnson is a university professor, writer, speaker, and retreat leader based on the Connecticut shoreline.

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

Carl McColman is a contemplative author, speaker, retreat leader, and spiritual companion based in Atlanta.

Carl, Cassidy, and Kevin (photo by Fran McColman)

Pilot Episode
Hosted by:
Carl McColman
Cassidy Hall and Kevin Johnson
Date Recorded:
September 25, 2017

“Coming Soon” Teaser Trailer

Coming Soon: A Podcast on All Things Silence.

This little snippet of audio bliss comes from the very first day that the Encountering Silence team — Cassidy Hall, Kevin Johnson, and Carl McColman — actually recorded what would become our “pilot episode” (scheduled to be released next month, December 2017). Here we are still finding our way around our respective microphones, and discovering our collective “voice” as the hosts of our new podcast. This may not tell you a lot about the content of our podcast — for that, let’s just say if it has something to do with silence, sooner or later we hope to explore it — but this will, we hope, give you a glimpse into our process — as co-explorers of silence, and perhaps even more important, as friends.

What can we say about our podcast? We are drawn to the mystery and spirituality of silence. We believe silence is beautiful, is peaceful, is conducive (and indeed essential) to both mental and physical health, and has an important role to play in our individual and communal search for meaning, for identity, for relationship, and even for love. We are all Christians (2 Catholics and 1 Episcopalian), so we also believe that silence helps us to respond to God, and indeed that silence is a gift from God. But this podcast is not just a “Christian” or even “religious” podcast: we are all drawn to interfaith dialogue and interspirituality, to mysticism and contemplation, to art and poetry, to the silence of the forest and of the library, the silence of the cathedral and the desert, the silence of a winter night and a sleeping child. Silence touches our lives in so many ways, and yet we live in a culture that has seemed to banish silence from so many corners of our life. What does that mean? And how will the increasing noisiness of our world impact our lives: our sense of serenity, our ability to listen to one another, our sense of purpose and identity and self-worth? So many questions, so many areas for exploration and discovery. If any of this resonates with you, we hope that you will join us — let us be together, for we all are Encountering Silence.


Welcome to Encountering Silence! This is the future home of the Encountering Silence podcast, hosted by Cassidy Hall, Kevin Johnson and Carl McColman. Come back soon — we’ll have an email sign up, links to social media, and — launching in December 2017 — the podcast itself!

Photo by Cassidy Hall