Letting Go of Second Guessing God with Kathleen Norris

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Walk slowly into the small prairie town of Lemmon, South Dakota, where there is time and space for deep contemplation. Kathleen Norris's search for a quiet place to write led her to the Dakota plains and, remarkably, to the world of a Benedictine monastery. In this dialogue, Norris reveals the hidden treasures of the spirit that come to those who live on the heartland of our culture, whether they be monks, townsfolk, farmers or ranchers. Yet for Norris, the deeper meaning of existence is found in letting go to mystery. We "waste a lot of energy," she tells us, "on things that really are mysteries. I think the best response to mystery is silence, attentive waiting--vigilance perhaps. But not trying to second guess God." (hosted by Michael Toms)


A recipient of both Guggenheim and Bush Foundation grants, Norris has published five books of poetry and many other books.

Her books include:

  • The Cloister Walk (Riverhead, 1996)
  • Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith (Riverhead, 1998)
  • Dakota (Houghton Mifflin 1993)

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How the customs and ceremonies of monastic life keep you young
  • The meaning of "Spiritual Geography"
  • The connection between devotion, worship and creativity
  • Why the mythology of fame leaves out the common life
  • Small town life--why it's underrated
  • Fundamentalism in the 20th Century--why it's so popular
Host: Michael Toms       Interview Date: 5/21/1999       Program Number: 2778