Monday, November 19, 2018

Kathleen Norris*

Kathleen Norris is the author of several New York Times bestselling memoirs, including: The Cloister Walk, Acedia & Me, and Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. She is also the author of seven poetry collections, including: Journey: New and Selected Poems.

Norris explained in a recent interview why she writes across different Christian traditions:
-----“...when I first encountered the Benedictine monks, I was on
-----a religious search...I wasn’t sure if I was even a Christian...
-----It’s one of God’s gifts to me that I found this tradition of
-----communal prayer — the Psalm readings, you know, and monastic
-----spirituality. A lot of what I’m talking about is included in
-----Benedictine material, but it comes from a time when there
-----weren’t any divisions in the church. There was no Roman Catholic
-----Church versus Eastern Orthodox versus Protestant. It all stems
-----from the original taproot of the religions, so it’s really
-----accessible to anyone, and that’s how I’ve always felt as a
-----Protestant. The monastic tradition is mine, too.”

Her husband, the poet David Dwyer, died in 2003. She now divides her time between South Dakota and Hawaii, where she was raised. She is the nonfiction editor for Saint Katherine Review. In 2017 she served as chaplain for Image journal’s Glen workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Answered Prayer

I came to your door
with soup and bread.
I didn’t know you
but you were a neighbor
in pain: and a little soup and bread,
I reasoned, never hurt anyone.

I shouldn’t reason.
I appeared the day
your divorce was final:
a woman, flushed with cooking
and talk, and you watched,
coiled like a spring.

You seemed so brave and lonely
I wanted to comfort you like a child.
I couldn’t of course.
You wanted to ask me too far in.

It was then I knew
it had to be like prayer.
We can’t ask
for what we know we want:
we have to ask to be led
someplace we never dreamed of going,
a place we don’t want to be.

We’ll find ourselves there
one morning,
opened like leaves,
and it will be all right.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Kathleen Norris: first post

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.