Visit the Abbey of the Arts online retreat platform to access your programs:

Soul Nourishment (Interlude)

What feeds your soul?   What is essential for you to feel well-nourished, alive, and energized?

I don’t just mean how many calories you need to consume to function, or what balance of vitamins and minerals you need for body processes. 

I mean, what are the things in your life that bring you such delight you feel as though your heart might burst with gratitude?

I’ve had one of those weeks so far of feeling my soul deeply nourished (and its only Wednesday and I go out on my Sabbath hike with Kathy in a little while).

Last Sunday my husband and I walked up to the farmer’s market in the morning and bought fromage blanc, sockeye salmon lox, spinach and gorgonzola ravioli, sweet yellow cherry tomatoes, raspberries, rosemary crackers, and a gorgeous fall bouquet with sunflowers and dahlias. 

We packed the food up in a bag and in the afternoon joined a friend and her husband on their boat around Lake Washington.  Friendship, meaningful conversation, wonderful food, while floating on the water and finding an abundance of beauty and stillness.  I am so aware this was truly a privilege.

Yesterday morning was my first class at STM, the students were wonderful (all 30 of them!) and engaged.  I felt energized and so at ease and was reminded again what I love about teaching.   I took the bus home, and as I climbed the steps of the number 60 bus down Broadway, smiled at the driver who carries people across the city each day, and dropped in my coins into the slot, the words of this wonderful poem stirred in me (it really is worth clicking over to read the whole thing!).   I prayed for peace. I prayed in gratitude for a life that is so deeply nourishing.  I gave thanks for the elderly couple sitting together across from me, the woman seemed to be at least partially blind and grasped the man’s hand tightly.  As he held her close, telling her gently what streets and landmarks we were passing, he would stroke her skin to reassure her, witnessing to tenderness and his commitment in a world that so often feels disconnected.  I prayed “for everyone riding buses all over the world.”

Last night the sun streamed through our windows illuminating the fall Farmer’s Market bouquet on the table and sent glimmering, shimmering, droplets of light dancing across the wall.  I watched, entranced, noticing the way the light shifted and then was suddenly gone as quickly as it seemed to appear.


Then this morning I was graced by light again, making its slow pilgrimage across my floor:

Some other offerings to nourish your soul this day:

A wonderful video that is making the rounds on YouTube about a man giving away hugs in a touch-starved world.  I felt tears rise in me as I watched.

Lots of creative inspiration over at the Soul Food Cafe!

Taking time to notice each moment feels like stringing pearls along a slender strand. Life is good and rich and full.  Overflowing with abundance really.    And I am so very grateful.  Grateful for beauty, for poetry, for the grief that continues to rise in me, for moments when holiness pours forth like milk and honey, for all of you wonderful readers.  May your day be blessed with nourishment for your soul.

-Christine Valters Paintner

You might also enjoy

Monk in the World Guest Post: Meg Munro

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Meg Munro’s reflection and paintings on her relationship with the Beloved Mother-Virgin. I had been despairing that my passion for painting was

Read More »

3 Responses

  1. Yes Wendy, it is exactly the wholeness of who we are that needs to be fed on so many levels. What would the world be without beauty?

    Bette, the farmer’s market meal was scrumptious! How sad I will be when they break for the winter. Thank you for all of your kind and wonderful words.

    Love and blessings to you both, Christine

  2. Love, Joy, and Peace nourish me. When I can see thru, reach thru, trudge thru the muck of this earth and kick off the sludge from my feet with a smile on my face….I feel nourished!

    I soooooo love your grocery list from the farmer’s market. Oh dear me…all of those things sound divine! And your glimmering, shimmering droplets are a huge Gift to you and for me as well for I have never thought of sunlight’s movement as a Pilgrimage! Oh Christine, you have a way with words :)

    I loved Ellen Bass’ poem which reminds me that LIFE itself should be a constant holy prayer.

    Love and HUGS,

  3. This is so true. What we need, not just want but need, are not just the obvious things for body survival but also things for heart and soul survival like love, and beauty, and order and the like. And Its not even split up like that, because we are all of those things, body and heart and soul, as one simple being, and so we truly need all of these things.