The First Elegy (excerpt)
Many a star awaited your gazing upon it to glimmer.
Many a wave lifted itself from the past to meet your seaside arrival.
You passed beneath an open window when a violin yielded itself to someone.
All this was a sacred trust.
Did you rise to the call?
—Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies
Are you in a place of discernment or at a crossroads?
Have you been feeling a call to something different? Something more?
Does the idea of stepping into the unknown both thrill you and terrify you?
Are you hungering for a modern tribe of passionate women committed to excavating the courage found in ancient wisdom?
There is a call singing from deep within the stars and the great sea to step out into a place of unknowing, a threshold space where the old is released and the new is not yet born.
Do you hear it?
This deep inner longing we experience in response is a sacred trust we are given. Each of us has a unique call to respond to. Each of us is given an ancient summons, a whisper, sometimes a jolt, from the comforts of our daily life, to explore something bigger, deeper, more expansive.
A threshold is a space between – a doorway between the old stories and the new one being birthed, between the tired former way of life and the aliveness emerging. Thresholds are challenging places to be because there is no map. There is no ten-step plan for how to move through this space. We feel disoriented there and impatient in having to wait.
And while no maps exist, there are stories. So many delicious and wild stories of women who have found themselves on a threshold, and stayed awake, until they could welcome in the new aliveness as it emerged. They stayed awake through the doubt and confusion, the letting go and grief, the anxiety and the hope.
We are heir to this legacy of women’s sacred stories. We inherit their wisdom, passing through our spiritual bloodline like deep nourishment for our soul offering courage to take the needed step. They call us to stay awake, to hold space for the growing tension within us, to stand in the great field of unknowing, and pay attention to the wild mysteries bringing something new to birth within each of us.
We need companions on this path. We need to be reminded that for thousands of years, other women have responded to an inner prompting, to leave home and all the securities she has known to embrace herself in a different way, to know herself apart from the roles and identities that others place upon her.
To welcome the threshold is to welcome in the newness of possibility for yourself and for the world. We desperately need women grounded in these ancient stories of hope in new possibility, to speak their visions and voices aloud to a world hungering for something different.
Four wise and wild women of the soul – Trish Bruxvoort Colligan, Ronna Detrick, Sibyl Dana Reynolds, and Christine Valters Paintner – are thrilled to have collaborated and co-created this offering to support you in standing at your threshold.
Each is a woman who has crossed her own thresholds, stayed awake in her own places of darkness and doubt, and who is committed to accompanying other women on this path.
Together they will set a table where a feast of lush and generous stories of women from the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, women mystics, and women from fairy tales, songs and other stories as archetypal symbols of women’s wisdom are offered to you.
- Week 1: A Story from the Desert Mothers (mystics) with Christine Valters Paintner
- Week 2: The Story of Eve (scripture) with Ronna Detrick
- Week 3: "God's Getting Born Again" (song) with Trish Bruxvoort Colligan
- Week 4: Hildegard of Bingen (mystics) with Sibyl Dana Reynolds
- Week 5: The Woman Who Anointed Jesus' Feet (scripture) with Ronna Detrick
- Week 6: "Keep Moving" (song) with Trish Bruxvoort Colligan
- Week 7: The Handless Maiden (fairy tale) with Christine Valters Paintner
- Week 8: The Beguines (mystics) with Sibyl Dana Reynolds
- Week 9: The Woman from Revelation (scriptures) with Ronna Detrick
- Week 10: "Don't Go Back to Sleep" (song) with Trish Bruxvoort Colligan
- Week 11: "Tribes" (story poem) with Sibyl Dana Reynolds
- Week 12: The Story of You with Christine Valters Paintner
How the retreat works
- Register and receive access to a private password-protected web page with all of the materials available for download including pdf files of reflections and mp3 files of weekly storytelling recordings and three beautiful songs from Trish Bruxvoort Colligan.
- You can also subscribe to receive the materials over a 12-week period of time. Emails will arrive four times per week. The first three emails each week will be an exploration of a sacred story of a woman on a threshold and also include a contemplative practice and invitation to creative expression. The Sunday email will act as a threshold between weeks, bringing the previous week to a close and launching us into the next week's session. Each week's emails will also be posted as PDF files for easy printing.
- You will receive 12 weeks of content-laden sessions that include 4 emails per week (mentioned above) plus an additional weekly mp3 recording of that week's guide reading you the "threshold" story featured that week drawn from the desert mothers, mystics, ancient women from scripture, fairy tales, poetry, and song. In addition you will receive reflections, practices, and questions for reflection that will invite you more deeply into your own story and journey with you through your own thresholds.
Program fee: USD$180
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
Trish Bruxvoort Colligan
Trish is a Story Midwife, touring singer/songwriter, retreat leader, and woman of soul committed to healing the world a story at a time. Her focus over the last fifteen years has woven together her love of stories, poetry, music, dreamwork, intuition, and the arts. In 2006, Trish created Spirations and began offering a Story Midwife Certification Program for women seeking training and deepening in the art of spiritual direction.
It's been said that Trish's family name signifies "bridge builder", which she adores. Her music has a way of gathering together folks of great
diversity, often in the same room at once.
Three recent thresholds from Trish’s life include: falling in love with a pitbull rescue puppy, totally revamping her work in the world, and (finally!) giving herself over to creating a new album of original songs rich with threshold imagery.
Trish lives among the wilds of her ever-expanding vegetable gardens in Strawberry Point, Iowa with her beloved, their school-aged son and various 4-leggeds. She's delighted to be threshold dancing with her lovely co-guides, Christine, Dana, Ronna, and with all of you! Welcome.
Sibyl Dana Reynolds
Sibyl Dana Reynolds is a spiritual director, the author of the historical novel, Ink and Honey, and founder of Sacred Life-Arts, an online sanctuary, classroom, and resource center devoted to bringing creative inspiration and spiritual illumination to women. For twenty plus years, Dana has facilitated the feminine spiritual/creative process. A mother and grandmother, she lives in Texas with her husband.
Christine Valters Paintner is the online Abbess of Abbey of the Arts, a global virtual monastery inspiring transformative living through contemplative and expressive arts. She is the author of seven books on monastic spirituality and creativity including The Artist's Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom. Her greatest passion is to inspire others to live as monks in the world and artists of everyday life. She and her husband are in the midst of their own great threshold-crossing, having first responded to an insistent call to sell everything they owned and move to Vienna, Austria, the land of Christine's paternal ancestors, and they are now continuing the adventure in Galway, Ireland.
Praise for the Class
There simply are no words to thank you enough, Ronna, Dana, Trish, and Christine. You are amazing women, all. I am so glad I decided to say YES to your invitation. May the blessings continue to flow from you, around you, and toward you! -–-Mary Van Denend
Christine, Ronna, Trish and Dana ~ thank you for forging the way, for offering such bountiful feasts each week, for companioning us as we traveled, and for living the threshold journey yourselves. ––Amber Andreasen
I have been challenged to continue a journey that I began two years ago, and one that has been the hardest and costliest of my life. Each week was just what I needed…..even if I did not want it to be so. While I have shared this before, I truly believe that Christine and Trish and Dana and Ronna had a view into my soul……and spoke directly to me challenging me to continue toward the threshold of the open and round door. —Joan Dollinger
So many thresholds are before us. Some, like a low gate, we can see beyond and know at least in part what lies ahead. Many are closed, hiding what is there. We cannot always pass them by. We must pass through. It helps me to think like the dog. It doesn't matter what lies ahead as long as my Master is there.
We have been given a jewel-chest full of wonders and possibilities. We have learned that a threshold is no real barrier. We are enlivened, energized, and at ease with ourselves like I imagine the dog was when his master opened the door and invited him in. —Linda Mosier Hale
I especially thank Christine, Dana, Trish and Ronna for providing unbelievably stimulating and thought provoking content. It will take me a lifetime to absorb the many lessons that were offered, the many art experiences I want to do and re-do. –Bo Mackison
To Christine, Trish, Ronna, and Dana – you are such beloved and loving women. What you have created and offered during these twelve weeks has been incredible. Thank you, from the deepest place in me, for the gift of each of you in this retreat. —Deborah Delano
This course is a permanent collection for me. I will reread and work on exercises I didn't do the first time. The email content was extraordinary-so unique, stimulating and wise and each week complimented the next because of the differences. —Barbara Banta
I came feeling lost in some soul isolation and stuckness.but over the course of these three months, I have been offered voice and stories, naming and songs, and comraderie to so much of who I truly am in my own skin. All of that has gently kneaded and massaged me into unstuckness!
Thank you all for an astounding journey! Thank you, Christine, Ronna, Trish and Dana for your deep individual and collective wisdom, your affirming presence, your gentle guidance, your rich offerings and creating such an extraordinary space for soul-gathering! It's truly been a blessing to me.