Shirley Hershey Showalter: Simplicity and Silence, Part Two (Episode 51)

Today’s episode is part two of a two-part interview. Click here to listen to part one.

Our conversation continues with Shirley Hershey Showalter, the author of Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World.

Singing is to a Mennonite what silence is to a Quaker. For me, singing is a way of bringing silence and voice together. — Shirley Hershey Showalter

She grew up “a barefoot girl” on a Mennonite farm near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where her ancestors tilled the soil for generations. Speaking of her childhood, she describes her earliest encounters with silence as embedded in the experience of the vast spaciousness of the farm. Her memoir explored the tension she experienced “in the silence of her own heart” between the traditional culture of the Mennonites and her desire to discover her own voice as a teenager and young woman in the 1960s — ultimately choosing to embrace her Mennonite identity, but very much on her own terms.

Being here in the Shenandoah Valley, looking out at the mountains, every morning it’s part of my spiritual practice to just sit in my red chair and look at the mountains. — Shirley Hershey Showalter

Shirley Hershey Showalter in Glendalough, Ireland

Our conversation in today’s episode begins with looking at the affinity between Anabaptist/Mennonite spirituality and Benedictine or monastic spirituality, including the spirituality of Celtic Christians. She shares how Irish mystic/poet John O’Donohue wrote eloquently of the contemplative nature of the mountains. She reveals why she came to call her memoir Blushand reveals who her silence heroes are (one living, one from history). She speaks about her most recent joy — encouraging people in their “final third of love” to find joy, jubilation, and a renewed sense of purpose.”

Find Shirley Hershey Showalter online at

To learn more about Threshold Choirs, visit

At a Mennonite conference I heard someone say, “Mennonites try to take monasticism into the family.” — Shirley Hershey Showalter

Today’s episode is part two of a two-part interview. Click here to listen to part one.

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

Episode 51: Simplicity and Silence: A Conversation with Shirley Hershey Showalter (Part Two)
Hosted by: Carl McColman
Guest: Shirley Hershey Showalter
With: Cassidy Hall, Kevin Johnson
Date Recorded: January 28, 2019

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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 Comment

  1. That is a good interview. I like that you asked questions and let her speak. Being clay, the nature of blushing, Willa Cather, and other elements struck a cord. Thank you. Joel

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