I am just back in Ireland now after almost three weeks traveling in the U.S. for teaching and visiting family. It was a magical time away. I led two retreats – the Sacred Rhythms Writing and Movement Retreat in Cape May, NJ where 18 amazing dancing monks joined to dive deep into the creative well together. Then came a few days of rest and renewal in Maine visiting my aunt and her husband which was a the perfect time of play and exploration. And finally came the Exploring Archetypes through Expressive Arts Retreat in Reading, PA with my dear friend and teaching partner Kayce Hughlett and another fabulous 16 dancing monks. The trip was everything I hoped for and more. I am basking in the generosity of life and the incredible beauty of this community.
Stepping into new contexts can help us to awaken to new perspectives, one of the many gifts of travel. I found myself broken open many times over the course of this trip. On the last morning of the first retreat, one of our participants asked me over breakfast: "What do you need? What does the Abbey need to thrive and flourish and expand into this next season?" Such a simple question really, and so full of love and grace. I felt this sudden rush of energy in response at receiving her question. "Admin support" was my immediate response and I could feel a physical release and softening in that moment of imagining what it would be like to let go of some of that responsibility.
I love the ways the Abbey is expanding, and admin work, which I have always done out of love and service, easily demands more than half of my time to keep up with emails, newsletters, blog posts, website updates, Facebook, registrations, finances, and much more.
My creative visionary heart keeps expanding, and over the course of my trip I received so many suggestions for rich and beautiful possibilities, other things the Abbey could offer to support its community better. So many seeds planted.
It is an incredible privilege to do this work in service of something much bigger than myself, a vision of how we can be in the world as contemplative and creative presences, bringing depth, meaning, and joy to our own lives and those we touch.
It is also an incredible privilege to support ourselves financially with this work, and we are at the point of just making ends meet with no surplus to cover illness, vacation, or retirement. So the thought of admin support often feels like an unaffordable luxury. Yet I am aware of sometimes feeling stretched a little too thin by so much to tend to and my work in the world is in part to witness to a way of being that is more at ease, less productive. And then there is the freedom I experienced in response to the question asked of me. My body never lies.
I spent much of the rest of the trip pondering this question and how to make a shift in my own work patterns, in what could be passed along to others, ways to find the resources to do this. And there were some moments of magic where some of the resources appeared as a way of encouraging me on. Sometimes we have to just step into the unknowing and feel the risk of doing something we know is in service to something bigger. I have definitely learned a thing or two over the years about the magic of stepping into my dreams.
We are opening registration for the series of online retreats being offered at the Abbey this coming season, starting with Advent/Christmas, followed byEpiphany/New Year's, then Lent, and finally a Scripture course over the Easter season (see below for more details). For the first time we are offering a series subscription. If you are able to make a time and financial commitment to the Abbey through signing up for all four online retreats, we would be deeply grateful to you. In return you receive a discount on the overall price as well as a free self-study retreat (may I suggest Honoring Saints and Ancestors, which could guide you through November which is the month of remembrance).
This will also help us in gathering some additional resources now to be able to get the extra admin support we need for the Abbey to continue growing and thriving. We would also love to offer more resources for connecting locally, and so admin help will go a long way to make that a reality as well.
For those of you for whom participation in an online program is a financial stretch, please know we are still committed to offering you free and low-cost resources (see the section at the bottom of the newsletter) as well as some partial scholarships where we can.
My guiding word this summer was "surplus" because I came to see sustainability in this work as not quite enough to allow for full thriving and expansion in the spirit of generous hospitality and abundance we like to offer here. I am daily in awe over how the Spirit has worked through this community over the last several years, from the humble beginnings of a blog to a global community with thousands of members where so many hungry to connect with the inner monk and artist can find kindred souls.
Many more dreams longing to be birthed, this is the season of harvest in the northern hemisphere, as well as the season of releasing and stripping away. Amma Syncletica, one of the desert mothers (pictured above in our newest dancing monk icon), offers wise reminders about always returning to what is most essential and asking what can be let go. These are not just physical items (although that can be very freeing as well) but also thoughts and beliefs that keep us confined. I am learning this wisdom in new ways this autumn and am ready to release some things to make more room for the bountiful harvest. Our community theme this month is on autumn's call to simplicity and we have a new Invitation to Lectio Divina practice posted.
What is autumn calling you to release to make room for something bigger? (And for our southern hemisphere dancing monks, what is spring calling forth from you in this season?)
This work grows through your support. We do very little advertising as word of mouth is the best way to welcome others in. Please consider sharing your love of the Abbey with others by forwarding this email or the link to our website.
At the heart of all this is God the Great Artist at work, the One who shimmers forth in silence, the presence unfolding in our midst this very moment, the Source who gathers us together in shared grief and joy.
I am only planning one teaching trip to the U.S. in 2015 for the Coming Home to the Body retreat April 17-21, 2015 (and Awakening the Creative Spirit which is full). Consider joining me in the beautiful Northwest to give yourself the gift of time away in a community of kindred souls.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Photo: Amma Syncletica (desert mother) dancing monk icon by artist Marcy Hall
Community Online Retreats Subscription Series (2014-2015)
- Birthing the Holy: Monks, Mystics, and Archetypes (November 30, 2014-January 3, 2015)
- Illuminating the Holy: Monks, Mystics, and Archetypes (January 4-February 7, 2015)
- The Soul's Slow Ripening: A Lenten Retreat on Monastic Wisdom for Discernment (February 16-April 11, 2015)
- Watershed Moments in Biblical History: Exodus, Exile, Death & Resurrection (April 12-May 23, 2015)
Please consider supporting the Abbey by committing to the whole series of online retreats this coming season. We have been hard at work since late spring working on these offerings and are very excited! The Advent/Christmas and Epiphany/ New Year retreats focus on one of the figures from the dancing monk icon series each week as source of wisdom and as archetype for our inner journey. Included will be reflections from Christine and John Valters Paintner on the theme, we have songs created just for each week by some of our favorite Abbey musicians (including Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, and David and Laura Ash), Betsey Beckman will be inviting you into gesture prayers with these songs, and Kayce Hughlett will be offering invitations to the process of SoulCollage.
The total cost for all four retreats if registering separately would be $640, but if you register for the series the cost is $575, a $65 savings overall and you can also choose one of our self-study retreats as a free gift (any from this page except for Women on the Threshold).
Registration is also available for any of the individual online retreats.
All 12 Dancing Monk Icons now available as prints! (order by October 31st for Christmas)
I am so delighted to announce that Marcy Hall of Rabbit Room Arts has made all 12 of the dancing monk icons available to order as prints. The prints are 5.5 x 10 inches and the mat is 11×14.
The dancing monk series includes: Benedict of Nursia, Hildegard of Bingen, Brigid of Kildare, Brendan the Navigator, Francis of Assisi, Mary, King David, Prophet Miriam, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Amma Syncletica.
Discounts on multiple prints and part of the proceeds goes to support the Earth Monastery Project.
If you place your order by October 31, 2014, the prints will be made up in November and shipped out before U.S. Thanksgiving in November for delivery by Christmas.
Please be patient after placing your order. Marcy works with a local printer she knows so the process takes time to make sure the prints are looking beautiful for you.