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

Embracing the Wisdom of the Body ~ A love note from your online abbess

Dearest monks and artists,

I am so delighted that my newest book is now available – The Wisdom of the Body: A Contemplative Journey to Wholeness for Women – is a labor of much love and the work of years of learning to love my body as wise guide and companion, even in the midst of chronic illness and pain. Here is a brief excerpt from the introduction:

We carry a terrible wound: alienation from our embodied life.
Your flesh shall become a great poem.

—Walt Whitman

Welcome to this journey. I want to keep saying that again and again. Welcome and more welcome. Know yourself – all of yourself – all your doubts and resistance, your body and soul, your joy and your grief are all welcome. My deepest hope for this time is that after journeying through all ten chapters, that you might discover yourself welcoming in even more of your beautiful being, and that places of resistance might begin to soften.

Two of the things I like to teach over and over are this kind of radical hospitality (which takes a lifetime of practice) and gentleness with yourself (probably because I need both of these so much myself).

Our bodies have this unfortunate tendency to carry with them a lifetime of criticism, analysis, scrupulous dissection, anger, betrayal, and more. It requires that we begin to remember ourselves, created out of such love. When one of my teaching partners, Betsey Beckman, offers up her Story Dance of the creation story from Genesis, she embodies God as creator, and with each act of creation she says “that’s good” with unbridled enthusiasm. Not in a distanced and unaffected way, but in a delighted and deeply celebratory way. Can we remember this? Can we imagine the divine uttering those words over every nook of our own creation?

The root of the word re-member means to make whole again, to bring the parts back together. We have been waging a war on ourselves for too long, tearing ourselves apart. As Walt Whitman writes, this alienation from our embodied life is a great wound we are each carrying.

What might it mean for you to allow your flesh to become a great poem?

You can find Part Two of A Different Kind of Fast for Lent on Embracing Vulnerability here>>

With great and growing love,


Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

Photo © Book Cover

You might also enjoy

Monk in the World Guest Post: Kate Kennington Steer

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to our Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Kate Kennington Steer’s reflection Heart of Stone. I arrived at February 2023 in a post-viral fatigue fug, feeling beset by depression, with

Read More »

Soul of a Pilgrim Video Podcast Day 2

Blessing for Packing Lightly*Winnowing God, you ask us to release, let go, surrender, and yield all that we canin service of making space for what is most essential. The more we set aside that which burdens us and takes up too much spacethe more room

Read More »

Monk in the World Guest Post: Mary Camille Thomas

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to our Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Mary Camille Thomas’s reflection Sitting in Paradise. “Sit in your cell as in paradise,” St. Romuald says in his brief rule for

Read More »