Dearest monks and artists,
Be. Here. This Moment Now is all there is, don’t go seeking another. Discover the sacred in your artist’s tools, they are the vessels of the altar of your own unfolding. Look at this cup of holy water, washing clean the brushes. See the blank page, awaiting your blessing. Gaze on the colors before you, each one a name of God: Saffron, Cobalt, Azure, Ruby. Say each one slowly and taste its juice in your mouth. Let this be your prayer. Brush them across the page. First the small strokes, then the larger sweeps. Lose track of all time. This too is prayer. Listen for the words that rise up: Awaken. Envision. Sing. Alleluia. Place marks on the page saying I am here. Watch as word and image dance together. Luminous. Illuminated. This is your sacred text. This is where God’s words are spoken, sometimes in whispers, sometimes in shouts. Be there to catch them as they pass over those sacred lips, tumbling so generously into your open arms.
Those words come from my book The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom. In some ways this book is the closest to expressing the heart of what we do at Abbey of the Arts.
Bringing together the poet and the mystic, the artist and the monk, the dancer and the pilgrim – I believe these partnerships offer much grace and healing to our soul-starved world. In my own life, I am feeling the pull of the poet and the hermit quite strongly these days – hungry to sit and listen to the music of silence and offer what is revealed there to me back to the world.
In light of this, I thought I would share four of my own poems (three inspired by Celtic saints) which are published at various links. You might pour a cup of tea and read each one twice slowly and see what invitations arise. Perhaps your own inner artist longs to dance with the monk and mystic.
“Listen” at Anchor
“Dreaming of Stones” at Spiritus Journal (a poem inspired by St. Ita)
“St Gobnait and the Place of Her Resurrection” at Poetrystuff
“Holy Mountain” at Galway Review (a poem inspired by St. Patrick)
This fall we will be offering an online companion retreat to the book called Way of the Monk, Path of the Artist. A vibrant community forms under the wonderful facilitation of our discussion guides and spiritual directors Stacy Wills and Cheryl Macpherson. I offer six live webinars where we join together for meditation and questions. (These are recorded if you can’t join live.)
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Photo © Christine Valters Paintner (Claregalway Franciscan Friary in Ireland)