Kathleen Norris tells her story, inAcedia & Me: Marriage, Monks and the Writer’s Life, of how she became a poet during her college days at Bennington. It was a teacher who told her she had what it takes.
Any Kathleen Norris readers out there? What do you think of her works? What do you think of her story of rediscovering faith? (By the way, her story here reminded me of those mentioned in Finding Faith, Losing Faith: Stories of Conversion and Apostasy, as told in the fine work of Timothy Larsen, who walked away and then came back to the faith.)
This chp tells the depressing story of some poets who could not find peace, and Norris winds in and out of her discovery of her gift for writing her own loss of faith, her marriage, and her move to South Dakota — where she began to discover her faith again.
In college she “came to believe that outgrowing a religious faith was something I needed to do in order to become a writer” (50). That is, “To challenge authority, convention, and traditional religion: that was the poet’s calling.” She also learned that depression was the proper mood for writing poetry.
She and her husband then moved from NY to SD: “The people I encountered every day were not other writers but farmers and ranchers, and something of their deep respect for God, the land, and the weather began to rub off on me” (52). She occasionally attended her grandmother’s Presbyterian church, discovered a Benedictine abbey in the area, was advised to read Hans Kung or Flannery O’Connor — she chose Flannery.
Both Norris and her husband were poets and how they learned to live together — she going to bed early and arising early and he staying up late and rising late.
Acedia doesn’t really come up in this chp much — one might guess that she is here connecting acedia to depression, the depression that poets know.