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A Time and Place for Silence: Greving and Ortiz on Time and Solitude

With another year having passed—perhaps even sped by—and a new one underfoot, HeightsCast returns with a discussion of time and solitude with Mike Ortiz and Rob Greving. Together, Mike and Rob invite us to slow down as they unpack their two recently published articles on the Forum. 

Mr. Ortiz dives into Henry David Thoreau’s cabin life and the importance of intentional times of solitude in our lives, while Mr. Greving considers our often uneasy relationship with time and the good of slowing down, even as the world speeds up. 

As we look forward to the new year with hope and anticipation, let us not forget to slow down and, in Mr. Greving’s words, listen for the present moment. After all, you can’t read a poem in a hurry. And if you are always in a hurry, you might miss the poetry of life. 


  • 1:45 Background to the articles 
  • 5:43 Thoreau’s way of solitude: the path to a greater appreciation of the world 
  • 10:15 Never less alone than when alone
  • 13:30 Time alone and listening for God
  • 15:55 Silence and the capacity to attend 
  • 20:55 Having more that is worth less
  • 22:55 Handling time gently 
  • 30:08 Times of leisure in the life of a school 
  • 32:30 Beyond life hacks: cultivating a disposition 
  • 40:56 Poetry, solitude, and time
  • 45:13 You can’t read a poem in a hurry 
  • 48:02 Slowing down in family life 
  • 53:00 The importance of not over-scheduling kids
  • 57:15 Conclusion and a closing poem

Recommended Resources 

Walden by Henry David Thoreau 

The World of Silence by Max Picard

Living in Liturgical Time by Terence Sweeney 

“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost

“Mossbawn”: Two Poems in Dedication by Seamus Heaney 

Also on The Forum 

Thoreau’s Cabin Life: Why It’s Not Anti-Social to Savor Solitude by Mike Ortiz 

Handling Time Gently by Rob Greving 

The Freedom to Form Bonds: Kevin Majeres on Mindfulness and Attention with Kevin Majeres

Forming Deep Workers with Cal Newport

What Is the Difference between Free Time and Leisure? by Joe Bissex

About the Guest

Michael Ortiz


Mike Ortiz teaches twelfth grade AP English. He is a recipient of three National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, including participation in the Independent Summer Scholar Program. He holds a B.A. in English from Saint Anselm College and an M.A. in English from Georgetown University. He began teaching at the School in 1985. His children’s novel Swan Town: The Secret Journal of Susanna Shakespeare (HarperCollins) was published in 2006. His latest book, Like the First Morning: The Morning Offering as a Daily Renewal (Ave Maria Press) was released in April 2015.

He and his wife, Kathleen, have two sons, David, ‘11 (UNC Chapel Hill, BA, University of Virginia, JD) and Daniel, ’14 (University of Chicago, AB, MSt, University of Oxford), and two daughters, Sarah (Notre Dame, BA,, M.Ed), and Caroline (Princeton, AB) who are graduates of Oakcrest School in Virginia.

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