STALKING THE DIVINE: Contemplating Faith with the Poor Clares

Kristin Ohlson, Author
Kristin Ohlson, Author . Theia/Hyperion $23.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4013-0025-8
Reviewed on: 06/30/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-452-28640-5
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A longing for belief at midlife has provided endless book material for authors, but Ohlson's beautiful writing, gritty honesty and parallel story of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration set this one apart. At age six, Ohlson wanted to be a nun, but later wandered from her childhood Catholicism. One lonely Christmas morning she stumbled across an advertisement for mass at Cleveland's St. Paul Shrine and decided to go. Attendance, she found, had dwindled, and only 16 cloistered nuns remained in the monastery, but she discovered that "somehow, the act of going had created the desire to go." Hoping that writing a book about the Poor Clares and the St. Paul Shrine might "help me construct a framework for trying to make sense of their faith, and, perhaps, learn to build some kind of faith of my own," she explores the history of both as her own faith journey unfolds. Ohlson remains insecure about her beliefs, but she finds that the patterns of faith and retreat keep the sparks of her growing faith kindled, and she takes heart in the "tiniest of convictions that God is like a fire burning in the darkness." Although she confesses she's not quite there yet ("I'll hear the words at mass—the words that I'm saying along with everyone else—and I'll think, 'Are you nuts?'"), Ohlson's vulnerability about her doubts in the midst of her new commitment will appeal to anyone who has ever yearned to believe. (Aug.)

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