An interesting read from an outsider's point of view. The author may be a Benedictine Oblate, but she isn't a Catholic and therefore doesn't always grasp the connection between Catholic teaching and Benedictine practices. While she approaches the subject fairly respectfully, she's missing a bit of the picture. At times, she seems stuck between admiration for the Benedictines and bashing the Catholic Church without realizing that the religious orders are very much a part of the Church she is taking a swipe at. The Desert fathers and early saints she quotes from are very much part of the Catholic Church and its teaching - but the connection seems lost on her. For Catholics, if you can stand a little uninformed sniping here and there, it is an interesting look at the beauty of contempletive life and the difficulties that surround it.
A quiet, insightful look at Benedictine live.
From the back cover: Why would a married woman with a thoroughly Protestant background and often more doubt than faith be drawn to the ancient practice of monasticism to a community of celibate men whose days are centered around a rigid schedule of prayer, work, and scripture? ...In this stirring and lyrical work, the monastery, often considered archaic or otherworldly, becomes immediate, accessible, and relevant to us, no matter what our faith may be.
Interesting book - reflections on her life in faith interspersed with Biblical history. I've enjoyed reading it.
Kathleen Norris is always good.
This was a very good book! Simple reading. Captivating.
Kathleen takes us behind the scenes on retreat with Catholic Benedictine monks and sisters, exploring her own spiritual development along the way. She posits that perhaps the monks and sisters are living the real life while we are caught in the fantasy world of everyday "reality." Her descriptions of the monks and sisters are especially insightful and touching. I was particularly taken by the elderly monk who has fallen and seriously injured himself. Kathleen and another monk go to visit him, and when the nurse tells him that he has two visitors, he replies, "It's a sweet life."
More from the back cover:
"Ms. Norris is subtle and shrewd... In the Cloister Walk, persisting in her wonderfully idiosyncratic ways, she gives us the result of an 'immersion into a liturgical world'...Most of all, naturally, these pages offer the voice of Kathleen Norris, a person of modern sensibility who dares leap across time and space to make the interests and concerns of any number of feflective thinkers her own...She is one of history's writing pilgrims but also a contemporary American one, boldly willing to forsake any number of cultural fads, trends and preoccupations in favor of this 'walk,' this searching expedition within herself..."
ROBERT COLES, NY TIMES BOOK REVIEW
This is a choice of many book groups.