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

Sun’s Pilgrimage (a love note from your online Abbess)

Galway Bay

Winter Solstice


this winter’s
of the year
let us go gently
— for once –
into the night,
its dream-drenched,
glittering stillness
a haven for our souls.

is something
beyond the dull
brightness of mid-day,
fluorescent and buzzing.
Something to praise
beyond the sun,
triumphing over the intricacies
of shadowed moonlight.

in the old,
beautiful realm
of Holy Night,
echoing with ancient voices,
rustling with intimacy’s passion,
luminous with stars.

Cradled in darkness,
be restored to the embrace of mystery.

Glory wakes here.

Let it kindle
your joy.

Rebecca Parker

Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,

In just a few days the northern hemisphere experiences the Winter Solstice which is that moment of pause and turning, Our apartment windows face east and south, so one of the great gifts I am experiencing is watching the sun make her pilgrimage across the horizon from summer solstice to winter solstice over the last six months. It is quite a long journey, and on Sunday she will rest at her point furthest south, appearing to stand still for three days before making the return journey again in the long walk toward summer.  It is a rhythm of journey, pause, and return, again and again. It reminds me a great deal of walking a labyrinth and the way I follow the path inward, pause and receive the gifts at the center, and then begin to move more fully out into the world carrying the light that is growing.

Of course, this is all happening in reverse in the southern hemisphere, and the whole world is experiencing a dance of movement and light waxing or waning, of the sacred rhythms of the sky and seasons.

I am grateful that in the last few years I have been able to step out of the rush of the holiday season for the most part. It is an intentional choice, my gift-buying is limited, we tend not to travel far, and so there is the grace of being present to the embrace of darkness and the descent into stillness. These days always kindle much reflection for me. Approaching the end of the calendar year also invites a look back on what the previous year has meant and what are the invitations as I enter another cycle around the sun. I have been listening closely for my word to arrive, savoring the possibilities that quicken my heart, and letting them ripen until ready to claim.

One of the invitations which seem to be laying claim to my attention and affections more fiercely these days are a call to deepen into this place that has chosen me, on the western edge of Ireland, perched by the sea, between the gorgeous landscapes of Connemara and the Burren, and to feel myself really at home. To learn the names and stories of this place, to deepen into its wisdom.

Another invitation is to continue leaning into this image of the Earth as Original Monastery which was given to me this year as both call and summons to deepen into my intimacy with the earth, the seasons, the tides, the landscape.

These two feel intimately connected one to the other, and are a living out of the monk’s call to stability, of deepening into place, of descending rather than widening.

What are the invitations bubbling up for you in moments of stillness?

This Advent I am sharing a weekly series of reflections from the Abbey archives on honoring the four weeks of Advent through the four elements. This week we listen for the wisdom of water:

The bass and trout hiding in the deep pools of the river are canonized by their beauty and their strength. The lakes hidden among the hills are saints, and the sea too is a saint who praises God without interruption in her majestic dance. —Thomas Merton

“For this third week of Advent I invite you to consider the element of water as an inspiration for your prayer and a way to grow in intimacy with creation. The gospel reading for this week is from John and celebrates water’s life-giving qualities through John’s call to baptize in preparation for the one who is to come.”

Click here to read the whole reflection>>
Click here for the reflection on fire>>
Click here for the reflection on air>>

We also have posted our Give Me a Word 2015 invitation with a free 12-day mini-retreat included and a chance to win one of many amazing prizes so generously shared from our Wisdom Council members. Be sure to stop by and see what is inspired in your heart for the year ahead.

Join us in the New Year for an online retreat on Illuminating the Way: Monks, Mystics, and Archetypes. Our Advent retreat is underway and a rich and glorious feast with a wonderful community gathered. We’d love to have you with us.

With great and growing love,


Photo above of Galway Bay by Christine

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 »

2 Responses

  1. Viriditas- As a community this year we are taking this concept of Hildegard as a source of renewal. Viriditas – the greening power of God. Pray for us all that this greening power might life us and renew our spirits and energies to be givers of life to others. God’s blessing of deep peace to you all this Christmas.