Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
Last year my word was “dwell” – an invitation to root myself even more in this place I call home. I keep falling more in love with Ireland, the landscape, the stories, the people, the seasons. It was a wonderful year of deepening friendships and widening community, and even more of a sense of how I am truly called here to this place where I thrive.
A couple of summers ago I was pondering quite a bit how to make this work I love so much sustainable energetically. Even with work that arises out of passion, we bump up against our limits of what we can give and how much renewal we need. As a contemplative and a strong introvert, my needs for quiet times are high and I am grateful for our seasonal rhythms which allow for extended times of restoration.
Then last summer my pondering shifted to consider something even more generous than merely sustainable:?surplus. I am not just thinking about how to have enough energy and resources to meet the needs of this flourishing community, but to have more than enough, a surplus, an excess of reserves.
My word is inspired by a quote I read a couple of years ago by Jungian analyst Robert Johnson in his book?The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden:
“Nothing happens, which is enough to frighten any modern person.? But that kind of nothingness is the accumulation or storing of healing energy. . . to have a store of energy accumulated is to have power in back of one.? We live with our psychic energy in modern times much as we do with our money—mortgaged into the next decade.? Most modern people are exhausted nearly all the time and never catch up to an equilibrium of energy, let alone have a store of energy behind them. With no energy in store, one cannot meet any new opportunity.”?
Those words have stayed with me ever since I read them, because I have recognized the call of the monk in them. What makes this monastic path so counter-cultural is the active resistance against living a life of busyness and exhaustion, of not making that a badge of pride, of having an abundance of time to ponder and live life more slowly and attentively.
How many of us feel our energy is mortgaged into the next decade? How many of us can never catch up with the rest we so desperately need much less feel like we have a "store of energy" behind us?
There are, of course, seasons of life which sometimes demand more from us energetically. It has been three and a half years since John and I embarked on our life pilgrimage which uprooted us from our long-time beloved home in Seattle and sent us to Vienna, Austria?for six months and then on to Galway, Ireland where we have now been for three full years. So much moving and transition over?time demanded a lot of inner resources. This past year with my invitation to “dwell” I found an inner shift, where I no longer had to tend so much to the energy of transition. In some ways, I feel as if my body finally trusts that I am not going to make it uproot and move countries again for a very long while.
I am deepening into this new season?of life, not one marked by so much change and wandering, but one committed to stability for the long season ahead. One where I fall back in love with?the sacred ordinary details of daily life: cherishing old and new friendships, shopping at the market and cooking for nourishment, celebrating the vibrant creative community we have here, enjoying long walks along Galway bay and noticing something new each time, showing up to my computer each day to write from my heart, swimming, dancing, swooning over life’s moments.
I am looking forward to discovering how surplus is inviting me into a deep kind of trust that there will be enough, more than enough, time, money, love.
I am delighted to have a poem published this week on the wonderful website Headstuff, click here to take a look at “This is How the World is Saved.”
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Photo © Christine Valters Painter