Fire of the Holy Spirit,
life of the life of every creature,
holy are you in giving life to forms.
Rivers spring forth from the waters
earth wears her green vigor.
–Hildegard of Bingen
St. Hildegard of Bingen, who in 2012 was canonized and made a Doctor of the Church, was a visionary leader of extraordinary creative power. Benedictine Abbess, healer, artist, musician, preacher, spiritual director, prophet, poet, the list goes on and on. She has left us with a tremendous legacy.
One of her great gifts was insight into viriditas, or the greening power of God, the life force at work in all of creation. This central creative principle was key for Hildegard in sustaining her soul and her work.
We often experience our life as a kind of wandering through the desert, experiencing the spareness of the landscape. But there is another side to the desert. The prophet Isaiah writes that “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.” (35:1-2)
This abundant blossoming is the provenance of viriditas. Together we will wander through the desert tending to the juicy gifts of viriditas, the creative life-giving force at the heart of everything alive. We will contemplate Hildegard’s wisdom for living a life that is fruitful and green and overflowing with verdancy. We will look for fecundity in barren places.
*This retreat was originally offered for Lent 2013 and in the two guided meditations there is a brief reference to Lent at the start, but all other references to Lent have been edited out of the materials so that you can feel free to move through at any time.
Week 1: Viriditas
Week 2: Body, Soul, & Senses
Week 3: Incarnation
Week 4: The Greening of the Virtues
Week 5: Holy Wisdom
Week 6: Music and Integration
How the Retreat Works:
As a part of this retreat you will be invited to make a commitment to a daily contemplative and creative practice. I will suggest a text from Hildegard of Bingen for each day to pray lectio divina with, to listen for the wisdom that stretches out to us across 800 years. This kind of daily deep listening can open up new reservoirs of inspiration and creative outpouring.
In response to your lectio practice, you also will be invited to a practice of creative expression, daily mandala drawings (Hildegard saw the circle as a sacred form echoing the cosmos) and journaling. Suggestions and guidance will be offered for both.
Of course, you can decide how much or how little of the suggested practices to engage. This retreat is for your enrichment and deepening.
What is Included:
- There is some pre-retreat material to introduce you to Hildegard, and the practices of lectio divina and mandala making. This includes two mp3 recordings from Christine – a guided meditation practice from Christine describing how to pray lectio divina and a reflection on the expressive arts as a gift for healing and transformation.
- For the following six weeks, you will receive six emails each week. Day 1 arrives to launch the week’s theme and offer you some wisdom and reflection from Christine into Hildegard’s writings. This will be a longer email. Days 2-6 will offer a daily quote and suggested mandala practice to carry the theme through the week. Day 7 of each week will be a break from emails, a chance to pause and integrate. The emails will include photos from Christine’s recent pilgrimage to Hildegard’s landscape as well as some of Hildegard’s own illuminated visions with commentary. Each week also includes a printable pdf file each week for easy access to the week’s written materials.
- Each week also includes links to various YouTube videos with Hildegard of Bingen's music selected for the week's theme and a movement prayer (week 2) and a vocal exploration (week 6) by Betsey Beckman to enrich your experience aurally and visually.
- Because this retreat is being offered in a self-study format, there will be no online forum for sharing. You are always encouraged, however, to share the fruits of your experience with a spiritual director, soul friend, or small faith community. Many folks gather small groups together to move through these retreats together.
Program fee: USD$90
Please read over the Abbey of the Arts online Class Policies and FAQ. There are no refunds for self-study purchases.
Discounts are available for small groups wanting to move through the material together: 20% off when 2 people register together, 30% off for 3, 40% off for 4 and above. Please contact Christine by email to request an invoice.
We also offer partial scholarships to those for whom the full cost would be a financial hardship. Please contact us to inquire.
Your Guides for the Journey
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD (click the link to read more about Christine)
Betsey Beckman, MM, is nationally acclaimed as a spirited dancer, storyteller, teacher of SpiritPlay and dancing Spiritual Director. With her extensive repertory of sacred storydances, she is regularly featured as artist/presenter at national conventions as well as local churches. She earned her Masters in Ministry degree from Seattle University, her certificate in Movement Therapy from the Institute for Transformational Movement, and is a certified InterPlay leader. Betsey’s publications include books, recordings, and The Dancing Word series of DVDs on embodied prayer.
Praise for the Retreat
Thank you, Christine, for the best retreat I've ever experienced. I'm hooked on Hildegard! She will ever be part of my spirituality as she has added both depth and richness to my faith. –Evelyn Jackson
It's Easter Monday and I am sad to see the end of this Creative Flourishing retreat, but oh so grateful for the multi-layered experience. I made the decision to take this journey at the last minute, but with great conviction it would deepen my Christian life. I had no idea what it would be like. It was like nothing I have experienced before. Thank you to Christine for originating the idea and doing such a thoughtful and tender job of guiding us through this journey. My deepest joy was to reconnect with the artist within me. The art literally flowed from me. Like living water. A well-spring fed by Christ himself. —Laurie Wagner
Sincere and grateful thanks for this marvelous retreat. Your guidance and song will live in my heart. Hildegard's presence has been a source of light and love. Your ministry is much appreciated. We are greener! —Mary Mason
I'll be stepping into the season of Easter and spring with more ease, joy and awake from having prayed with, reflected on, moved with and daily witnessing of the mandalas during the past five and one half weeks. Thank you Christine for your vision, knowledge, design and guidance throughout this Lenten season; Hildegard of Bingen is now a living Saint for me. Betsey, i've become more embodied, through participating in your interpretations of Hildegard in dance and chant. This spiritual community has filled my heart with divine blessings. I will pass these blessings on. —Beatrice Randall
My heart is so full. This has been the best retreat in my life. —Louise Thigpen
This has been a very rich retreat. I have loved creating, singing, breathing, moving, reading and praying with you. Thank you. —Judith Bryan
I'm so grateful for this retreat. It has been the most amazing experience of learning and growth, spiritually, artistically, and emotionally. Most of which I was not expecting when I signed up. Christine, I want to thank you again for this amazing Lent retreat. It was a joy, honor and privilege to attend. This has been an experience I won't soon forget. I've learned so much about myself and this process of healing through artistic expression. I look forward to doing more with you. ––Tamara Mapp