Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
I have been savoring some time of reflection over these midwinter days. Now is an especially ripe opportunity for looking back and forward because in 2016 Abbey of the Arts celebrates its 10th anniversary of ministry and service. In many ways the Abbey began years before 2006, as the seeds were planted in my years of teaching high school and working as a campus minister, then going on to pursue my PhD in Christian spirituality, study spiritual direction and expressive arts, and my early years living in Seattle listening for how to bring the things I loved most together.
Our existence as a virtual monastery and global community, however, began as a blog called The Sacred Art of Living dedicated to being "a place for conversation around the intersection and integration of spirituality, creativity, and the arts." That conversation has continued over time, although the name changed to Abbey of the Arts about a year later and a community was born.
My desire in first creating a blog was essentially to retrain myself to write for everyday people. I had finished a PhD in 2003 and had spent years immersed in academic jargon and research. But my desire was always to reach a wider audience than just those we find in universities.
As part of this anniversary, I am going to take the opportunity each month to reflect on each of our past years of history. So starting next week I will look at 2006-2007, the old blog posts, the movements of the Abbey, and share some of the highlights as a way to track the unfolding of what has been created. In February I will move on to the following year, and so on. Many of you have asked me at different times how the Abbey came into being, and this is one way I can begin to track this evolution more clearly.
To be sure, when I began this adventure, I never imagined I would be living in Ireland leading pilgrimages all these years later with nine books written. There have been so many wondrous surprises as well as struggles along the way.
This year we are also returning to our monthly opportunities for contemplation and creativity in community. Starting in February each week we will be posting an invitation to lectio divina, poetry, photo, and dance parties based on monthly themes.
I am full of anticipation over this chance to pause and reflect and see where the Abbey is going in the next 10 years.
Thank you for all the ways you support this work in the world.
Registration is open for our Lent & Easter online retreat on Earth as Original Monastery. I would love for you to join us and deepen our intimacy with all of creation.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE