Andrew Forsthoefel, "Walking to Listen"

R.J. Julia Booksellers and Mercy by the Sea present an author talk and book signing with Andrew Forsthoefel, followed by a self-guided walking meditation at Mercy By The Sea’s labyrinth.

A memoir of one young man's coming of age on a journey across America--told through the stories of the people of all ages, races, and inclinations he meets along the way.

Life is fast, and I've found it's easy to confuse the miraculous for the mundane, so I'm slowing down, way down, in order to give my full presence to the extraordinary that infuses each moment and resides in every one of us.

At 23, Andrew Forsthoefel headed out the back door of his home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, with a backpack, an audio recorder, his copies of Whitman and Rilke, and a sign that read "Walking to Listen." He had just graduated from Middlebury College and was ready to begin his adult life, but he didn't know how. So he decided to take a cross-country quest for guidance, one where everyone he met would be his guide. 

In the year that followed, he faced an Appalachian winter and a Mojave summer. He met beasts inside: fear, loneliness, doubt. But he also encountered incredible kindness from strangers. Thousands shared their stories with him, sometimes confiding their prejudices, too. Often he didn't know how to respond. How to find unity in diversity? How to stay connected, even as fear works to tear us apart? He listened for answers to these questions, and to the existential questions every human must face, and began to find that the answer might be in listening itself. 

Ultimately, it's the stories of others living all along the roads of America that carry this journey and sing out in a hopeful, heartfelt book about how a life is made, and how our nation defines itself on the most human level. 

Andrew Forsthoefel is a writer, radio producer, and public speaker. After graduating from Middlebury College in 2011, he spent nearly a year walking across the United States. It was the greatest privilege and blessing of his life. He now facilitates workshops on walking and listening as practices in personal transformation, interconnection, and conflict resolution. He is currently based in Northampton, Massachusetts.


The labyrinth is an ancient pattern, found in many cultures across the globe, which helps us journey to our center. Unlike a maze, which is a kind of game with decision points and dead ends, the labyrinth has only one circuitous path to the center. Thus it is not a puzzle but a walking meditation, an embodied prayer.

There are many different types of labyrinths originating in Greece, Rome, India and other places. Mercy by the Sea’s labyrinth, a left-handed seven-circuit labyrinth, is constructed of brick, inkberry bushes and Stony Creek granite. The brick and inkberry provide the borders for the stone path. If you follow that path (rather than the brick) you won’t get lost.

Located on the western end of the property, overlooking Long Island Sound, the labyrinth was conceived by Sr. Eugenie Guterch, designed by landscape architect Laurence Appleton, and constructed by Ted Ozyck in 1998.

In addition to its centering effect, walking the labyrinth puts us in touch with the wisdom of our bodies and allows us to slow down and become more aware of the plants surrounding the path, the sky, the air, sunlight, and smell of the earth and sea.

Please register for this FREE event here. 

If you're unable to attend the event and would like a signed copy of Walking to Listen, please purchase the "Signed" version below.

Event Date: 
Sunday, May 21, 2017 - 2:00pm
Event address: 
Mercy By the Sea
167 Neck Road
Madison, CT 06443
Walking to Listen: 4,000 Miles Across America, One Story at a Time Cover Image
ISBN: 9781632867001
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury USA - March 7th, 2017