Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
June 9th is the feast of St. Columcille, one of Ireland’s three patron saints, and the founder of the monastic community in Iona. Above is Marcy Hall’s wonderful dancing monk icon of him.
On June 13th we begin a summer online journey through my book The Artist’s Rule called Way of the Monk, Path of the Artist. Out of all my books, this one is still the best selling title, I think because it taps into this deep hunger for integrating contemplative practice with creative expression. When I started the Abbey 10 years ago I had no idea how far and wide the community of monks and artists extended in the world waiting for a place to call their own.
These words, inspired by a poetry writing exercise to write a poem of instruction, tumbled forth from me years ago as I discerned writing the book:
Be. Here. This Moment Now is all there is, don’t go seeking another. Discover the sacred in your artist’s tools, they are the vessels of the altar of your own unfolding. Look at this cup of holy water, washing clean the brushes. See the blank page, awaiting your blessing. Gaze on the colors before you, each one a name of God: Saffron, Cobalt, Azure, Ruby. Say each one slowly and taste its juice in your mouth. Let this be your prayer. Brush them across the page. First the small strokes, then the larger sweeps. Lose track of all time. This too is prayer. Listen for the words that rise up: Awaken. Envision. Sing. Alleluia. Place marks on the page saying I am here. Watch as word and image dance together. Luminous. Illuminated. This is your sacred text. This is where God’s words are spoken, sometimes in whispers, sometimes in shouts. Be there to catch them as they pass over those sacred lips, tumbling so generously into your open arms.
Most of the books I write are process-oriented, meaning that they are best savored slowly, working through the material week by week, rather than in one big gulp. Much like the way of the monk. They are also enriched by engaging in them in community, to enter into conversation around the ideas, to share one’s creations in a safe space, these all bring the work to life even more.
For this next offering of the 12-week online retreat I have a special added bonus of six teleconference calls where I will be sharing further on the ideas in The Artist’s Rule, from 5 years on after publication. If you can’t make the scheduled times these will be recorded for later listening.
Join us for Way of the Monk, Path of the Artist. There is always an amazing community of monks and artists that forms. You do need to purchase the book to accompany it as well.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Photo © Columcille Dancing Monk icon by Marcy Hall at Rabbit Room Arts