Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
Today we begin our journey into the holy season of Advent with our online retreat. The theme this year is Sacred Time: Embracing the Slow Rhythms of the Season. Here is a brief excerpt from the first week’s reflection:
"The seasons, whether of the day, week, month, year, lifetime, or cosmos, invite us into a profound respect for thresholds. In our usual day to day awareness, one moment isn’t especially different from another. In seasonal time, we become aware of the continual invitation to cross a threshold into a deeper awareness. Dawn, day, dusk, and dark each carry different qualities and questions. Spring, summer, fall, and winter each offer new perspectives on the rhythms of life.
Thresholds are what the Irish call “thin places,” where heaven and earth seem nearer to one another. A threshold is a place between, where we are invited into not knowing what the next moment will bring. Of course, we never really do know what life will bring us, but we often march through our days with a sense of sameness and tedium.
This beginning of Advent marks a threshold into a new liturgical season of the year. In the Christian tradition, this is when the New Year begins, we move into a new cycle of readings. As we honor the season ahead, we honor crossing a threshold into a time of growing darkness (if we are in the northern hemisphere, the light will begin to grow in the south).
We honor that this time now is different than what came before. We are in a new season, both of the outward focus of ritual, and the inward focus of our lives. Seasonal time can give us a profound appreciation of the varying textures of our lives. Perhaps you are at a place in your life of discerning a new direction and find yourself at your own threshold.
In this retreat we will focus on the seasons and rhythms of life as a way of embracing a different experience of time. Time as unfolding rather than always running away from us. Time as offering invitations rather than demands that we keep up. Eternal time, present moment time, the fullness of time.
Sacred time is time devoted to the heart, to things that matter, to wonder and beauty, to catching glimpses of eternity. Sacred time is not measured in minutes or hours, but offers us an inner sense of expansiveness."
The retreat starts today. I hope you will consider joining us for an always meaningful conversation with one another about living life with more attentiveness and generosity.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Photo: © Christine Valters Paintner at Vienna Central Cemetery