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Stalking the Divine: Contemplating Faith with the Poor Clares
ISBN: 1401300251
By Kristin Ohlson
Review by: Mary Keith Trawick

5/15/04

Faith involves complete trust. This trust is a quest many seek, but have trouble finding. In Stalking the Divine: Contemplating Faith with the Poor Clares, Kristin Ohlson invites the reader to join her quest. She begins her journey when she finds herself heralded back to church one Christmas. Attending mass sparks questions about what faith means to her. Raised Catholic, but having found herself distanced from the church in past years, Ohlson discovers a need “to be in the midst of people who gathered to share a belief in something greater than the assorted daily struggles of their lives.” As she begins to attend mass regularly, a group of cloister nuns adds to her questioning.

As I watched them disappear from view every Sunday, I wanted to drift behind them like vapor, swirling invisibly in their wake as they led a life so dedicated to-the pursuit of God? To the pleasures of God?

Witnessing the devotion of the Poor Clares pulls Ohlson deeper into the question of what faith means to her.

Ohlson uses her journalistic inquisitiveness to approach the Poor Clares for an interview. After some trepidation, the Poor Clares agree.

All this time I sensed a restlessness in Mother James. Then I recognized it: she was thinking about work.

Kristin Ohlson interlaces interviews with the nuns, asking them what called them to the order, with the interesting history behind the order. Through the interview process, Ohlson discovers how different each of the nuns is from their calling to the order, to their mannerisms. She discovers that for the nuns like herself, faith is a constant struggle. Slowly through her journey, Ohlson discovers that like the nuns each of our religious needs are different and it is up to each one of us to form our own definition of faith. According to Mother James,

it’s not about feeling. You can’t go by what you feel. You have to go by what you know-that God is there, that you’re doing your best in all things

The question of faith seems to have been stalking Kristin Ohlson into self-discovery through the order of the Poor Clares, leading me to wonder if Stalking the Divine is an appropriate title for this book. Kristin Ohlson does a wonderful job of leading the reader on her search for answers. She beautifully interweaves the history of the order with each nun’s personal account of why she chose to join the Poor Clares. She asks the questions that many of us keep internalized. And though there is no definitive answer to the question of faith, Kristin Ohlson eloquently shows the reader that they are not alone in their quest, writing:

I’ve been trying to use these women’s stories to pin faith down and map it out. But every time I think I have the map spread out neatly before me, parts of it curl up break apart, or just fade away.




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