Dearest monks and artists,
Welcome to all of our new subscribers who signed on during our sabbatical time!
I have thoroughly enjoyed taking this time to step back from email and social media and allowing more time for silence and reflection. Summer lends itself to a holy pause and a time to look ahead to the coming year and what rhythms we want to create for ourselves that allow listening to a deeper voice. I was reminded too of those foundational things which sustain and nourish me most. I feel ready to dive back into the work I love so much with renewed commitment and vision.
John and I also traveled back to the U.S. to visit family. It was a rich time of reconnection, conversation, laughter, and just being in one another’s presence. John’s father passed away after a long illness last May, and so the trip was in part a time to gather with his sisters and remember. There is a new grandbaby in the family as well who was baptized, so the cycles of life weave together and offer the hope of new life amidst the poignancy of loss. Holding this tension is at the heart of our work as monks, artists, pilgrims, and mystics.
I returned home to find a copy of Mysterious Ways magazine where I am interviewed on Finding the Mystic Within. Here is a brief excerpt:
What drew you to a life of monks and mysticism?
I’ve always had a contemplative heart, which means I’ve always been drawn to periods of silence and solitude, even though I grew up in New York City. When I was 21, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and I quickly became aware of the rush of life and the push to produce and keep your schedule as full as possible. I couldn’t ignore what my inner voice was telling me—my inner monk, if you will. I needed to find a gentler way.
Does everyone have an inner monk, just waiting to come out?
That desire for a different way of being in the world is often the first spark that brings people to our abbey. A longing for a way to live that’s not quite so hectic and allows time for savoring. A voice deep inside that knows the importance of rest. We don’t always have a name for that longing, but we all have it within us.
How can you take what a monk does and apply it to “normal” life?
At the heart of it is spiritual practice. For instance, an important monastic principle is radical hospitality, welcoming the stranger in our midst. That can also mean welcoming the aspects of ourselves that we pay less attention to—our secret yearnings and needs. We need to acknowledge them in our contemplative practice.
If you want support in cultivating your own inner mystic, join us this September for Way of the Monk, Path of the Artist – a 12-week online journey in community through my book The Artist’s Rule. The monk and artist archetypes are two pathways to the mystic within!
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Photo © Christine Valters Paintner