Kaya Oakes, Silence, the Body, and Women Mystics (Part One)

Essayist and journalist Kaya Oakes is the author of The Nones Are Alright: A New Generation of Believers, Seekers, and Those in Between, Radical Reinvention: An Unlikely Return to the Catholic ChurchSlanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture, and a book of poetry, Telegraph. Her next book, Medieval: How Women who Don’t Fit in are Changing the World, is forthcoming from Broadleaf Books in 2021.

This episode is part one of a two-part conversation with writer Kaya Oakes. Click here to listen to part two.

Kaya’s essays and journalism have appeared in The New Republic, Slate, Foreign Policy, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Sojourners, National Catholic Reporter, Commonweal, Religion Dispatches, Tricycle, On Being, America, and many other publications. She was the co-founder of the award-winning arts and culture magazine Kitchen Sink, and is currently on the editorial board of the ground-breaking religion website Killing the Buddha.

She teaches creative nonfiction, narrative journalism, expository and research writing at the University of California, Berkeley.

You can find her online at www.oakestown.org.

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

Episode 123: Silence, the Body, and Women Mystics: A Conversation with Kaya Oakes (Part One)
Hosted by: Carl McColman
With: Cassidy Hall, Kevin Johnson
Guest: Kaya Oakes
Date Recorded: November 30, 2020

Featured photo (St. Julian’s Cell, Norwich England) by Carl McColman.

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel: Silence, Ritual, and the Earth (Part Two)

This episode features the conclusion of our conversation with Zen poet Zenju Earthlyn Manuel. Click here to listen to part one of this interview.

Zenju was raised in the Church of Christ where she was an avid reader of the Bible and adored the true teachings on Christ’s path well into adulthood. She also participated in ceremony with Ifá diviners from Dahomey, Africa and studied Yoruba. She holds a Ph.D. and formally worked for decades as a social science researcher, development director for non-profit organizations and those serving women and girls, cultural arts, and mental health.

She is the dharma heir of Buddha and the late Zenkei Blanche Hartman in the Shunryu Suzuki Roshi lineage through the San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC). She was Shuso (head Student) with Kiku Christina Lehnherr and her Dharma Transmission was completed by Shosan Victoria Austin. Zenju’s practice is influenced by Native American and African indigenous traditions.

Finally, she is a lover of art, music, indie film, literature, and dance.

Poets are insane. — Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

Learn more about Zenju by visiting her website, www.zenju.org.

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

Episode 122: Silence, Ritual, and the Earth: A Conversation with Zenju Earthlyn Manuel (Part Two)
Hosted by: Kevin Johnson
With: Carl McColman, Cassidy Hall
Guest: Zenju Earthlyn Manuel
Date Recorded: November 10, 2020

Featured photo by Carl McColman.

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel: Silence, Ritual and the Earth (Part One)

This episode features part one of our conversation with Zen poet Zenju Earthlyn Manuel.

Zenju was raised in the Church of Christ where she was an avid reader of the Bible and adored the true teachings on Christ’s path well into adulthood. She also participated in ceremony with Ifá diviners from Dahomey, Africa and studied Yoruba. She holds a Ph.D. and formally worked for decades as a social science researcher, development director for non-profit organizations and those serving women and girls, cultural arts, and mental health.

She is the dharma heir of Buddha and the late Zenkei Blanche Hartman in the Shunryu Suzuki Roshi lineage through the San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC). She was Shuso (head Student) with Kiku Christina Lehnherr and her Dharma Transmission was completed by Shosan Victoria Austin. Zenju’s practice is influenced by Native American and African indigenous traditions.

Finally, she is a lover of art, music, indie film, literature, and dance.

Learn more about Zenju by visiting her website, www.zenju.org.

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

Episode 121: Silence, Ritual, and the Earth: A Conversation with Zenju Earthlyn Manuel (Part One)
Hosted by: Kevin Johnson
With: Carl McColman, Cassidy Hall
Guest: Zenju Earthlyn Manuel
Date Recorded: November 10, 2020

We Are Grateful for… You!

Dear lovers of silence,

Just a short note here to wish you a happy Thanksgiving (if you aren’t in the United States, our harvest holiday is celebrated the 4th Thursday of November). We aren’t releasing a new episode this week, but we’ll be back next Tuesday, December 1.

Since Thanksgiving is a time for acknowledging the many blessings in our lives, we (Carl, Cassidy & Kevin) want to express how much gratitude we have for all of you, the many listeners who have joined our podcast’s ongoing conversation about silence. We think of you with every new interview and every new episode. It is our commitment to create a meaningful conversation about silence in all the ways it impacts (or is absent) from our lives. We hope the podcast has been a blessing for you — and we look forward to sharing future installments of this conversation with you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Emilie Townes: Silence, Storytelling, and Womanist Thought (Part Two)

Today on Encountering Silence we present the conclusion of our two-part interview with womanist theologian Dean Emilie M. Townes. Click here to listen to part one.

Dr. Emilie M. Townes, an American Baptist clergywoman, is a native of Durham, North Carolina. She holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a Ph.D. in Religion in Society and Personality from Northwestern University. Dr. Townes is the Dean and Distinguished Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, becoming the first African American to serve as Dean of the Divinity School in 2013.

She is the former Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology at Yale University Divinity School and in the fall of 2005, she was the first African American woman elected to the presidential line of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and served as president in 2008. She was the first African American and first woman to serve as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the Yale Divinity School. She is the former Carolyn Williams Beaird Professor of Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and Professor of Social Ethics at Saint Paul School of Theology.

She edited two collection of essays, A Troubling in My Soul: Womanist Perspectives on Evil and Suffering and Embracing the Spirit: Womanist Perspectives on Hope, Salvation, and Transformation; she has also authored Womanist Justice, Womanist Hope, In a Blaze of Glory: Womanist Spirituality as Social Witness, Breaking the Fine Rain of Death: African American Health Issues and a Womanist Ethic of Care, and Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil. She is co-editor (with Stephanie Y. Mitchem) of Faith, Health, and Healing in African American Life. She also co-edited Womanist Theological Ethics: A Reader in collaboration with the late Katie Geneva Cannon and Angela Sims. Townes was elected a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. She served a four-year term as president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion from 2012 to 2016.

Silence has been a comfort and also a warning. — Dean Emilie M. Townes

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

Episode 120: Silence, Storytelling, and Womanist Thought: A Conversation with Dr. Emilie M. Townes (Part Two)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman, Kevin Johnson
Guest: Emilie M. Townes
Date Recorded: November 9, 2020

Emilie Townes: Silence, Storytelling, and Womanist Thought (Part One)

Today on Encountering Silence we present part one of our two-part interview with womanist theologian Dean Emilie M. Townes.

Dr. Emilie M. Townes, an American Baptist clergywoman, is a native of Durham, North Carolina. She holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a Ph.D. in Religion in Society and Personality from Northwestern University. Dr. Townes is the Dean and Distinguished Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, becoming the first African American to serve as Dean of the Divinity School in 2013.

She is the former Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology at Yale University Divinity School and in the fall of 2005, she was the first African American woman elected to the presidential line of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and served as president in 2008. She was the first African American and first woman to serve as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the Yale Divinity School. She is the former Carolyn Williams Beaird Professor of Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and Professor of Social Ethics at Saint Paul School of Theology.

The Encountering Silence team in conversation with Dean Emilie M. Townes.

She edited two collection of essays, A Troubling in My Soul: Womanist Perspectives on Evil and Suffering and Embracing the Spirit: Womanist Perspectives on Hope, Salvation, and Transformation; she has also authored Womanist Justice, Womanist Hope, In a Blaze of Glory: Womanist Spirituality as Social Witness, Breaking the Fine Rain of Death: African American Health Issues and a Womanist Ethic of Care, and Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil. She is co-editor (with Stephanie Y. Mitchem) of Faith, Health, and Healing in African American Life. She also co-edited Womanist Theological Ethics: A Reader in collaboration with the late Katie Geneva Cannon and Angela Sims. Townes was elected a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. She served a four-year term as president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion from 2012 to 2016.

The act of knowing is always contextual and fraught with our best and worst impulses. — Dean Emilie M. Townes

Dean Townes is featured in this video on the legacy of womanist theologians associated with Union Seminary.

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

Episode 119: Silence, Storytelling, and Womanist Thought: A Conversation with Dr. Emilie M. Townes (Part One)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman, Kevin Johnson
Guest: Emilie M. Townes
Date Recorded: November 9, 2020

Marie Howe: Silence and the Depth of Poetry (Part Two)

Marie Howe is the former poet laureate of New York and the author of four volumes of poetry: Magdalene, The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, What the Living Do, and The Good Thief. She is also the co-editor of a book of essays, In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing from the AIDS Pandemic. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry, Agni, Ploughshares, Harvard Review, and The Partisan Review, among others.

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

Being busy is an affliction; I feel I am disabled by it. — Marie Howe

Cassidy says, “In my experience, Marie’s poetry has aways shown me the extraordinary in the moment at hand — whether that points me to pauses and internal silence while on the subway in NYC when I came across her poem ‘The Moment’ reminding me the the rush, slows to silence…” Or the embodied solidarity like I felt when I read ‘Magdalene on Gethsemane’ which reimagines what Jesus was really seeing in the garden the night before his torture and death — she writes that he ‘saw the others the countless in his name raped, burned, lynched, stoned, bombed, beheaded, shot, gassed, gutted and raped again….’”

The Us and Them just has to stop. — Marie Howe

Marie joined us via Zoom from her home in Greenwich Village last June. With a poet’s eye and for imagery and ear for nuanced language, her thoughts on silence were both perceptive and beautiful.

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

Deep interiority is where we change, where we are changed. — Marie Howe

Episode 118: Silence and the Depth of Poetry: A Conversation with Marie Howe (Part Two)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman, Kevin Johnson
Guest: Marie Howe
Date Recorded: June 1, 2020

Marie Howe: Silence and the Depth of Poetry (Part One)

Marie Howe is the former poet laureate of New York and the author of four volumes of poetry: Magdalene, The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, What the Living Do, and The Good Thief. She is also the co-editor of a book of essays, In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing from the AIDS Pandemic. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry, Agni, Ploughshares, Harvard Review, and The Partisan Review, among others.

I do feel that people want community, they want to connect with each another. I just don’t think we want dogma; we don’t want anyone saying what something is, what it has to be. — Marie Howe

Cassidy says, “In my experience, Marie’s poetry has aways shown me the extraordinary in the moment at hand — whether that points me to pauses and internal silence while on the subway in NYC when I came across her poem ‘The Moment’ reminding me the the rush, slows to silence…” Or the embodied solidarity like I felt when I read ‘Magdalene on Gethsemane’ which reimagines what Jesus was really seeing in the garden the night before his torture and death — she writes that he ‘saw the others the countless in his name raped, burned, lynched, stoned, bombed, beheaded, shot, gassed, gutted and raped again….’”

How difficult it is to be in the presence of real joy. — Marie Howe

Marie joined us via Zoom from her home in Greenwich Village last June. With a poet’s eye and for imagery and ear for nuanced language, her thoughts on silence were both perceptive and beautiful.

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

I had a lot to learn; I had to learn to sit in a chair… to stay sitting in a chair was a triumph for me. I slowly began to learn that when I wanted to get up, that was the time to stay seated and keep writing. — Marie Howe

Episode 117: Silence and the Depth of Poetry: A Conversation with Marie Howe (Part One)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman, Kevin Johnson
Guest: Marie Howe
Date Recorded: June 1, 2020

Cynthia Bourgeault: Silence and the Imaginal Realm (Part Two)

Cynthia Bourgeault is a theologian, Episcopal priest, and core faculty member of the Center for Action and Contemplation’s Living School. She also is the founding director of an international network of Wisdom Schools. She is the author of numerous books, including The Heart of Centering PrayerCentering Prayer and Inner Awakening and The Wisdom Jesus. Her latest book is Eye of the Heart: A Spiritual Journey into the Imaginal Realm.

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

Cynthia Bourgeault previously joined us on Encountering Silence (Episodes 58 and 59). As one of the most popular contemplative authors of our time, she offers a unique and distinctive approach to contemplative silence, grounded in Christianity yet radically informed by the wisdom of other traditions.

The purpose of contemplation is to make us responsive and skillful actors at what we must do, not to shield us from action which must happen. — Cynthia Bourgeault

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

The “forthcoming book” that Carl alluded to is Eternal Heart: The Mystical Path to a Joyful Life (scheduled to be published in June 2021).

Contemplative life takes away urgency when you can act spaciously within the instantaneous now. — Cynthia Bourgeault

Episode 116: Silence and the Imaginal Realm: A Conversation with Cynthia Bourgeault (Part Two)
Hosted by: Carl McColman
With: Cassidy Hall, Kevin Johnson
Guest: The Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault, PhD
Date Recorded: September 17, 2020

Cynthia Bourgeault: Silence and the Imaginal Realm (Part One)

Cynthia Bourgeault is a theologian, Episcopal priest, and core faculty member of the Center for Action and Contemplation’s Living School. She also is the founding director of an international network of Wisdom Schools. She is the author of numerous books, including The Heart of Centering Prayer, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening and The Wisdom Jesus. Her latest book is Eye of the Heart: A Spiritual Journey into the Imaginal Realm.

This is part one of a two-part interview.

Cynthia Bourgeault previously joined us on Encountering Silence (Episodes 58 and 59). As one of the most popular contemplative authors of our time, she offers a unique and distinctive approach to contemplative silence, grounded in Christianity yet radically informed by the wisdom of other traditions.

Our own personal and collective fear of death is what’s holding us on one side of the divide, and if we could just get through that, we’d have a whole new set of tools in our grab-bag for rebuilding the planet on the other side of COVID. — Cynthia Bourgeault

Silence and contemplation is a way of learning how to, in a nanosecond, instantly surrender your being entirely into God and then walk into the noise and fray with steel nerves — or with a quaking heart, but with steel nerves. You just do it. — Cynthia Bourgeault

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

When the unknown reaches out to us in a whole new dimension, we can trust and say yes and flow with it. — Cynthia Bourgeault

Episode 115: Silence and the Imaginal Realm: A Conversation with Cynthia Bourgeault (Part One)
Hosted by: Carl McColman
With: Cassidy Hall, Kevin Johnson
Guest: The Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault, PhD
Date Recorded: September 17, 2020

Rick Hanson: Silence, Buddhism and the Brain

Rick Hanson, PhD, is a psychologist, senior fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and New York Times bestselling author. His books include Neurodharma, Resilient, Hardwiring Happiness, Just One Thing, Buddha’s Brain, and Mother Nurture. He has released an audio series called The Enlightened Brain and is the creator of the Just One Thing Card Deck.

Rick is the founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, he has been an invited speaker at Google, NASA, Oxford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide. He has several online offerings—including the Neurodharma experiential program—and more than 150,000 people receive his free weekly newsletter. He and his wife live in Northern California and have two adult children.

Tell the truth about your suffering. — Rick Hanson, PhD

Rick joined us recently to share some insights into the science of silence, particularly in light of his work as a psychologist and practicing Buddhist.

Come home to yourself, to find your footing, over the course of a single breath. We know what that’s like… What’s it like to be me? And then in the middle of all that, finding what feels like refuge. Stabilizing, protective, refueling, renewing, refuge. — Rick Hanson, PhD

Some of the resources and authors mentioned in this episode:

Find a spiritual practice that really feels good… that you’re drawn to do it… that it feels good for the minute, or five minutes, or forty minutes that you do it; it’s calming, it’s restorative, it feels like home, and you like it. It adds value to you and it it’s good for you. — Rick Hanson, PhD

Episode 114 : Silence, Buddhism, and the Brain: A Conversation with Rick Hanson
Hosted by: Carl McColman
With: 
Cassiday Hall and Kevin Johnson
GuestDr. Rick Hanson
Date Recorded: May 18, 2020

Jim Forest: Silence, Protest, and Radical Love (Part Two)

Returning Guest Jim Forest is a noted author, biographer, photographer, peacemaker, and friend.

He is the author of numerous books, including most recently Writing Straight with Crooked Lines: A Memoir. Some of his previous titles include The Ladder of the BeatitudesLoving Our Enemies: Reflections on the Hardest Commandment, and Praying with Icons. He has written several biographies, including All Is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day, Living with Wisdom: A Life of Thomas Merton and At Play in the Lions’ Den: A Biography and Memoir of Daniel Berrigan.

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

Musician Joan Baez writes of Jim’s latest book, “Jim, my brother in nonviolent arms, writes beautifully about his dedication to truth, love, and activism.”

Jim Forest serves as the International Secretary of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship.
And he lives in Alkmaar, the Netherlands with his wife Nancy.

We tend to turn things into ideologies, and I find in general I’m an ideology-avoider. — Jim Forest

Cassidy Hall says this of her friendship with Jim and Nancy, “I got to meet Jim a few years ago when we crossed paths at Voices for Peace in Toronto and then we reconnected in The Netherlands. He and Nancy graciously hosted me — they housed me, fed me, and most importantly nurtured me spiritually. His humble, gentle, and kind presence makes any guest in his company feel like one of his dear friends.”

By “his dear friends,” Cassidy is alluding to the remarkable relationships that Jim has nurtured over the years, with some of the most significant spiritual leaders and activists of our time — people such as Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Daniel Berrigan, Henri Nouwen, and Thich Nhat Hanh. In his words and the witness of his life, Jim Forest reveals the power of relationship in all activist-oriented work.

This is part one of a two-part episode. Our next episode will feature the conclusion of this interview.

Some of the resources and authors mentioned in this episode:

Visit Jim and Nancy Forest’s website www.jimandnancyforest.com.

Episode 113 : Silence, Protest, and Radical Love: A Conversation with Jim Forest (Part Two)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: 
Carl McColman and Kevin Johnson
Guest: Jim Forest
Date Recorded: September 10, 2020

Featured photo: Jim Forest with Thich Nhat Hanh, 1980s. Photographer unknown. 

 

Jim Forest: Silence, Protest, and Radical Love (Part One)

Returning Guest Jim Forest is a noted author, biographer, photographer, peacemaker, and friend.

He is the author of numerous books, including most recently Writing Straight with Crooked Lines: A Memoir. Some of his previous titles include The Ladder of the BeatitudesLoving Our Enemies: Reflections on the Hardest Commandment, and Praying with Icons. He has written several biographies, including All Is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day, Living with Wisdom: A Life of Thomas Merton and At Play in the Lions’ Den: A Biography and Memoir of Daniel Berrigan.

Musician Joan Baez writes of Jim’s latest book, “Jim, my brother in nonviolent arms, writes beautifully about his dedication to truth, love, and activism.”

Jim Forest serves as the International Secretary of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship.
And he lives in Alkmaar, the Netherlands with his wife Nancy.

Dorothy Day used to say, ‘Hope is a duty, not an option.’ It’s an obligation. — Jim Forest

Cassidy Hall says this of her friendship with Jim and Nancy, “I got to meet Jim a few years ago when we crossed paths at Voices for Peace in Toronto and then we reconnected in The Netherlands. He and Nancy graciously hosted me — they housed me, fed me, and most importantly nurtured me spiritually. His humble, gentle, and kind presence makes any guest in his company feel like one of his dear friends.”

By “his dear friends,” Cassidy is alluding to the remarkable relationships that Jim has nurtured over the years, with some of the most significant spiritual leaders and activists of our time — people such as Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Daniel Berrigan, Henri Nouwen, and Thich Nhat Hanh. In his words and the witness of his life, Jim Forest reveals the power of relationship in all activist-oriented work.

This is part one of a two-part episode. Our next episode will feature the conclusion of this interview.

When you say the same things every Sunday, it becomes silence… Far from being infinitely boring, it becomes infinitely alive. — Jim Forest

Some of the resources and authors mentioned in this episode:

Visit Jim and Nancy Forest’s website www.jimandnancyforest.com.

Protest alone will not keep you going. — Jim Forest

Episode 112 : Silence, Protest, and Radical Love: A Conversation with Jim Forest (Part One)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: 
Carl McColman and Kevin Johnson
Guest: Jim Forest
Special Guest: Nancy Forest-Flier
Date Recorded: September 10, 2020

 

Paul Quenon, OCSO: Silence, Poetry and Monastic Wisdom (Part Two)

Brother Paul Quenon, OCSO, Trappist monk, poet, and photographer, is the author of books like In Praise of the Useless Life: A Monk’s Memoir and Unquiet Vigil: New and Selected Poems. He returned to Encountering Silence for a conversation recorded last April (to hear his previous conversations on this podcast, click here and here). In this episode he speaks about the spirituality of nature, how God sometimes feels absent, and the challenge of being a poet in a time of dejection.

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

Nature for me is very congenial… the birds are my teachers, they always seem to be exhilarated, no matter how bad the world is, they’re singing that same tune, and it picks up the heart: there’s something larger than ourselves and our concerns. — Br. Paul Quenon, OCSO

Brother Paul entered monastic life in 1958, when he was only 17 years old — back before the reforms of the Second Vatical Council, when the life of a Trappist was even more austere than it is today. His novice master turned out to be Thomas Merton, who eventually became an inspiration to Brother Paul not only as a monk, but as a writer.

It might be a mistake to seek the fullness of God. God, to our perception, is more like nothing, nothingness and emptiness. You have to allow God to manifest the way God will. Sometimes it’s consoling, sometimes you feel a presence… on the other hand, sometimes you just have to prepare yourself to the reality that God does not speak sometimes. — Brother Paul Quenon, OCSO

Some of the resources and authors mentioned in this episode:

I think a lot of people are feeling very dejected, at a loss, and maybe what the Lord wants me to do is feel at a loss with them. — Br. Paul Quenon, OCSO

Episode 111: Silence, Poetry, and Monastic Wisdom: A Conversation with Brother Paul Quenon, OCSO (Part Two)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman and Kevin Johnson
Guest: Br. Paul Quenon, OCSO
Date Recorded: April 30, 2020

Paul Quenon, OCSO: Silence, Poetry and Monastic Wisdom (Part One)

Brother Paul Quenon, OCSO, Trappist monk, poet, and photographer, is the author of books like In Praise of the Useless Life: A Monk’s Memoir and Unquiet Vigil: New and Selected Poems. He returned to Encountering Silence for a conversation recorded last April (to hear his previous conversations on this podcast, click here and here). This time, he offers a fascinating conversation drawing lines of connection between the monk’s experience of cloistered solitude and the challenges that the public at large has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I think there’s something within everybody that really wants to have quiet time… There’s something about the heart that thirsts for that kind of quiet and silence. — Br. Paul Quenon, OCSO

Brother Paul entered monastic life in 1958, when he was only 17 years old — back before the reforms of the Second Vatical Council, when the life of a Trappist was even more austere than it is today. His novice master turned out to be Thomas Merton, who eventually became an inspiration to Brother Paul not only as a monk, but as a writer.

Here’s a video of Brother Paul reading one of his poems, from our conversation this year:

A habit can be a very supportive thing, a routine can be a deadening thing a ritual should always be a vital thing and should always be done mindfully. — Brother Paul Quenon, OCSO

Some of the resources and authors mentioned in this episode:

In a monastery you’re living in a poetic environment, and the countryside that we live in, I think it exposes the mind to open up to poetry. — Br. Paul Quenon, OCSO

Episode 110: Silence, Poetry, and Monastic Wisdom: A Conversation with Brother Paul Quenon, OCSO (Part One)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman and Kevin Johnson
Guest: Br. Paul Quenon, OCSO
Date Recorded: April 30, 2020