The Contemplify podcast kindles the examined life through artful musings with scholars, creatives and master teachers.
Contemplify seeks to glean wisdom from master contemplatives across the ages (Thomas Merton, Simone Weil, Lao Tzu, Ralph Waldo Emerson to name a few) by those who know them best—the scholars who have devoted themselves to studying, embracing and teaching the contemplative’s life and work in the world. Interviews with creatives and master teachers shine a light forward on engaging meaning and depth through subtle, artistic means and exploring beyond the current boundaries of thought to make way for a more sustainable frontier.
Each episode delivers a subtly intoxicating* exchange on the contemplative lifestyle with practical takeaways to emulate in daily life. Contemplify gladly joins the creatives, thought leaders and scholars ringing the bell in the ivory tower for the pleasure of those robbing a moment of contemplation on the backporch.
Ring the bell. Rob the moment. Contemplify.
Host, Paul Swanson, is a husband, father and contemplative educator at the Center for Action and Contemplation's Living School**.
*Contemplify is best served with a pint in hand. Please listen responsibly.
** All shenanigans, tom foolery and bally-hoo posted on Contemplify are my own. Contemplify is not representative of the Center for Action and Contemplation or Richard Rohr on any matter.
A Wild Mystical Woman of the Desert with Amy Frykholm
Amy Frykholm is a writer, scholar, and journalist. Long time listener’s will recognize Amy as the second guest ever on Contemplify when we spoke about her book on Julian of Norwich. For those new to Amy's story, she has a PhD from Duke University and is a senior editor at The Christian Century. Her wry wit and adventurous spirit deserve a place in her accolades too. Today we talk about her latest work, Wild Woman: A Footnote, the Desert, and My Quest for an Elusive Saint. This cheeky quest follows Amy in the footsteps of St. Mary of Egypt as she seeks insight and inspiration from this wild woman, equal parts mystery and mystic. I am thrilled to have Amy back on Contemplify.
Check out Amy’s work at amyfrykholm.com.
Follower Amy on Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
Enlivening the First Christmas with Stephen Mitchell
Stephen Mitchell is a translator, author, and poet. I was first introduced to his work through his translation of the Tao Te Ching. Stephen was educated at Amherst, the Sorbonne, and Yale, and de-educated through intensive Zen practice. He is married to Byron Katie, founder of The Work. Today we talk about his latest work, The First Christmas: A Story of New Beginnings that tells the story of Jesus birth with imagination, humor, historical context and red-blooded gusto! As someone who has been steeped in Christmas narrative my entire life, I was elated by this telling packed with new perspectives and wise characters (including the ox and the donkey alongside their human counterparts).
You can check out Stephen’s work at stephenmitchellbooks.com.
Backporch Advent Outpost with Chris Dombrowski (#2)
Blessed Darkness and Blessed Light, this Advent season. Here we are again, In the midst of Season Two of Contemplify and I am sliding in another bonus episode part of the 2nd annual Backporch Advent Outpost on Contemplify.
Today’s poet is Chris Dombrowski. I first read Chris’ book Ragged Anthem and then his earlier work in the book Earth Again. It wakes me to the day at hand. Dombrowski’s poetry has been a constant companion to me during this pandemic, his connection to earthbound attention, humor, musicality of our days, longing born from loss, whole-makin and restoration. I cannot say enough about the poetry of Chris Dombrowski. May these poems catch you in the moment you are ready to receive them.
Chris Dombrowski, will be reading three poems, ‘Francis’ from Ragged Anthem and ‘Possible Psalm’ and ‘Sustenance’ from Earth Again. There is a link in the shownotes for this episode at Contemplify.com to order Chris’ books. Visit Chris Dombrowski’s website at cdombrowski.com.
Take a sip, breathe a little deeper. Here is Chris Dombrowski pouring us an Advent nightcap.
Backporch Advent Outpost with Todd Davis (#1)
Blessed Darkness and Blessed Light this Advent season. Here, In the midst of Season Two of Contemplify I am sliding in a bonus episode. This is the first episode of the 2nd annual Backporch Advent Outpost on Contemplify.
This year there will be one poet in each outpost, offering their poetry to gild the thin space beyond waiting or reception. Pour a tea or a finger of rye, consider this your Advent nightcap.
Todd Davis, will be reading two poems from his forthcoming book of poetry Coffin Honey from Michigan State University Press. There is a link in the shownotes for episode at Contemplify.com to pre-order Todd’s book, Coffin Honey.
Take a sip, breathe a little deeper. Here is Todd Davis reading us first, “Of This World” and second, “Wayfaring”.
The Monastic Heart & Prophetic Imagination with Sr. Joan Chittister
Sister Joan Chittister is a member of the Benedictine Sisters, played a huge hand in developing the Charter of Compassion, was president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious., director of Benetvision, founder of Monasteries of the Heart, passionate peace activist, and has a bird named Lady Hildegard. The focus of our conversation today is Joan’s book, The Monastic Heart: 50 Simple Practices for a Contemplative and Fulfilling Life.
Check out the show notes at contemplify.com
Slow Yourself to be Awed with J. Drew Lanham
J. Drew Lanham is an Alumni Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology, Master Teacher, and Certified Wildlife Biologist at Clemson University . He's the author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature and the collection of poetry and meditations, Sparrow Envy: Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beasts, which is the focus of our conversation today.
visit contemplify.com for full show notes for this episode
Food for the soul
Genuine, uplifting interviews.
Richard Rohr said, “The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.” Paul’s podcast is a good place to learn the practice of the better. I appreciate the hopeful conversations.
Asking the right questions
Paul asks the right questions and then listens well. His own reflections are warm, poetic, and accesible for those pursuing a more intentional life.