The Cloister Walk

The Cloister Walk

Kathleen Norris

* * * * *

I first encountered Kathleen Norris’s book, The Cloister Walk, when we were still living in South Dakota. It is mainly autobiographical, sharing the personal history of a woman who is a midwesterner more by choice than anything else, and a poet, and a feminist reclaiming religion after rejecting it as a young woman.

More specifically, it’s her exploration of being a lay student of the Benedictines, and following the Liturgy of the Hours.

It’s not preachy, and it’s not always gentle. In the book, Norris confronts dark parts of her past, and tries to make peace between her political sensibilities and her yearning for faith.

It has become one of my favorite books, one that I can re-read more than once, always finding something new. (I also recommend her earlier work Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, especially for those transplanted to the Great Plains from other parts of the country – it totally saved my sanity when I was living in South Dakota).