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St. Brigid and the Fruit Tree (a love note from your online Abbess)


St. Brigid and the Fruit Tree

There was the moment
you could bear it no more.
Your eyes brimming with
great glistening drops
summoned by the hunger of
the world, the callous and
terrible things men and
women do to one another.

Your tears splashed onto
cold stony earth, ringing out
like bells calling monks to prayer,
like the river breaking open to
the wide expanse of sea.

From that salt-soaked ground
a fruit tree sprouts and rises.
I imagine pendulous pears,
tears transmuted to sweetness.

There will always be more grief
than we can bear.
There will always be ripe fruitflesh
making your fingers sticky from the juice.

Life is tidal, rising and receding,
its long loneliness, its lush loveliness,
no need to wish for low tide when
the banks are breaking.

The woman in labor straddles the doorway
screaming out your name.
You stand there on the threshold, weeping,

and pear trees still burst into blossom,
their branches hang so heavy, low,
you don’t even have to reach.

–Christine Valters Paintner

Dearest Monks and Artists,

This is a shorter love note this week as I am away teaching in the UK, but I wanted to send my latest poem in the dancing monk icon series. Brigid is a beloved Irish saint and I too have fallen more and more in love with her the longer I live in this sacred landscape. The stories and threads which tie her to ancient goddess tradition and Christian saint reveal a woman who is in love with life, who shows the most tremendous compassion for others who are struggling, and who offers us guidance and wisdom in our lives.

The monk is called to hold the tensions of life – to savor the grace and gift of it all while also welcoming in sorrow and grief. Our lives are like the rhythm of the sea, calling us to rise and fall, to feel the fullness of joy and the ache of loss.

If spending time with St. Hildegard, Brigid, Benedict, Brendan, and Mother Mary makes your heart flutter, please consider joining us for our Advent & Christmas online retreat where we will focus on a different mystic/saint each week and the archetype they invite us to embrace. Reflections, songs, poetry, SoulCollage, dance, and herbs will all be a part of this journey. We have an incredible group of artists and teachers offering their gifts to the community.

With great and growing love,


Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

Photo top: Brigid dancing monk icon by Marcy Hall

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One Response

  1. Christine, Thank you for ‘being away teaching in the UK this week’ – being present at your teaching today at the London Spirituality Centre was a holy privilege rarely granted. Thank you too for giving us so much: all the shimmering images and wonderful poems and ideas to keep working with and contemplating. Your poem of St Brigid touches me deeply . . . such suffering this week and still rich fullness rising. Abundant blessings.