A stirring, luminous work in the tradition of The Cloister Walk. Wandering into a forgotten downtown Cleveland church for a Christmas mass, Kristin Ohlson discovered the Poor Clares--a tiny, threadbare congregation of cloistered elderly nuns with one mission: to pray day and night (literally 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) for the sorrows of the world. Ohlson--utterly enchanted by these devoted women--started to attend church for the first time in many years. So began her three-year dialogue with the Poor Clares, a dialogue that afforded Ohlson a fascinating, unprecedented glimpse into the intensely private nuns and their life in the cloister. Why, she wonders, have these women retreated from the world to joyfully devote themselves to perpetual adoration? How do they sustain their faith? And what, ultimately, is faith? As Ohlson--a long-time skeptic--opens up to the Poor Clares, she opens herself to the possibility of the sacred. The result is an inspiring personal journey as well as a poignant reflection on the power of the church and faith, no matter what our religion may be.
Kristin Ohlson, a freelance journalist, essayist, and fiction writer, has been published in the New York Times; Salon.com; Ms.; O, The Oprah Magazine; Discover; New Scientist; Food & Wine; Tin House; Poets & Writers; and many other publications. A teacher, she occasionally works with creative writing students at Cleveland State University and women prisoners at the Cuyahoga County jail. A recipient of the Ohio Arts Council's Individual Artists Fellowship in Fiction for 2003-2004, she lives in Cleveland, Ohio.