Cloister Walk Essay Research Paper In The

Cloister Walk Essay, Research Paper In The Cloister Walk, American poet Kathleen Norris takes the reader through her experiences with life in a Benedictine monastery. She writes 75 short tales,

Cloister Walk Essay, Research Paper

In The Cloister Walk, American poet Kathleen Norris takes the reader through her

experiences with life in a Benedictine monastery. She writes 75 short tales,

each one dealing with a different observation.. One thing that appealed to me

about this book is that Kathleen Norris isn’t a catholic, nor is she very into

church. Her experiences at the monastery help her better understand herself, as

well as others. This paper will attempt to link my experiences with those of

Kathleen Norris’s and the Catholic Tradition. Kathleen Norris moves into the St.

John’s monastery and her book is based on her nine months there. She has a very

poetic personality, and goes to the monastery in search of expanding her mind.

She doesn’t expect to find religious knowledge or to improve her relationship

with God. "The monastic life," she says, "has this in common with

the artistic one: both are attempts to pay close attention to objects, events,

and natural phenomena that otherwise would get chewed up in the daily

grind." There are a few main topics with which she pays special attention

too, those of celibacy, community living, the liturgy, and time. Each of these

topics relates very nicely to my experiences here at Notre Dame, as well as to

different aspects of the catholic tradition. Norris has this to say about

celibacy. "Celebate people have taught me that celibacy, practiced rightly,

does indeed have something valuable to say to the rest of us. Specifically, they

have helped me better appreciate both the nature of friendship, and what it

means to be married." Although I cannot relate to the marriage aspect of

this statement, I can relate to the friendship part. For 19 years of my life, I

chose to remain celebate. The friendships that I formed in this time with

members of the female sex have been very powerful. I can honestly say that I

have experienced love without the physical part of my relationships being

present. The perfect example of this is my best friend at Notre Dame. We can sit

and talk all night long about absolutely anything, and we both know each other

as well as ourselves. We help each other cope with the hard times, especially as

of late, she has been at my side supporting and loving me the entire way. Should

something physical step in the way of this at this point in time, I think that

our friendship would be altered for the worst. This all relates to the Catholic

tradition of remaining celebate until marriage. The reason the Catholic church

does this is so people learn to develop emotional ties rather than physical

ones. Should I ever marry this girl, it won’t matter if there isn’t any physical

attraction because the emotional bond between us is so strong that we could most

likely deal with anything. When Norris says "they(celebate people) have

something valuable to say to the rest of us," she is putting the catholic

church’s feelings on the issue into layman’s terms. Communal living is another

topic that Norris has an opinion about. While she was living in the monastery,

she was amazed at how the monks were all so diverse, yet they managed to get

along well. As one monk told Norris "our biggest problem is that each man

here had a mother who fried potatoes in a different way." Norris talks

about how beneficial it was for her to live among such a diversified group of

people because she learned to accept diversity. This is especially important

here at Notre Dame. In my dorm room alone I have a roommate originally from

Mexico, a roommate from Seattle, and a roommate from South America. Three

different languages are spoken in my room and before this year I had never met

two of my roommates. This has been my most gratifying year though in regards to

learning to understand different types of people. Living with all different

types of people for the past two and a half years has been a great experience

and has helped me to grow as a person. I had to learn to take individual

differences into account in order to live happily in the dorm. Catholics are

taught the importance of friendship and understanding…something that communal

living definately endorses. I feel the same way that Norris does when she says

that she has grown as an individual simply through living with other people. The

next topic that Norris talks about deals with that of the liturgy. Norris, being

very poetic in nature, takes a liking to the liturgy. She finds that the

language of the liturgy and the language of poem to be very similar in that the

wording is eloquent and takes a great deal of discipline and commitment to

understand them both. The lesson that Norris is trying to teach by saying this

is that discipline and commitment are two very important qualities to have; and

the more that you have of each the better. I do not think that this can really

be applied to Notre Dame, at least not in my experiences, because of the many

outside influences that can affect people. Illness, injury, depression, stress,

and exhaustion are all things that college students experience, some worse than

others. Norris didn’t really have to deal with any of that at the monastery, but

I can still see what she is saying. Regardless of that, discipline and

commitment are two things that are very prevelant in the Catholic tradition. It

takes discipline to live within the Catholic tradition. For example, the

temptations of sin must be avoided. Also, the Catholic tradition stresses

commitment too. Commitments to God, to yourself, to your family, and to your

spouse are all examples. Norris feels that poetry and the liturgy teach you

commitment and discipline, and once again, help an individual to grow as a

person (like she did.) The final subject that this paper will discuss is what

Kathleen Norris says about time. "In our culture, time can seem like an

enemy. But the monastic perspective welcomes time as a gift from God, and seeks

to put it to good use rather than allowing us to be used up by it."