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Harvesting the Gifts ~ A Love Note from Your Online Abbess

Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,

It is a very full season of life for me right now, having facilitated our Writing on the Wild Edges retreat at the end of August with John here in Ireland, then traveled to Germany to lead our pilgrimage in the footsteps of St. Hildegard of Bingen with Betsey Beckman (we are looking at fall 2021 for the next offering of that program).  In a couple of days John and I have a new group arrive to Galway where we will journey to local sacred ruins and explore the gift that Celtic monasticism has for our lives. Then in November we travel together to Vienna, Austria, a city so close to my heart, to lead another monastic pilgrimage to the beautiful sites and monasteries there. My heart is so full with wonder at the work I am blessed to do.

Having led retreats for close to 25 years now and offering pilgrimages for the last five years, there is an ease and a joy that rises while also having the privilege of getting to know so many amazing dancing monks. Truly, the people who show up for our programs give me tremendous hope for our fractured world. People of great kindness, presence, commitment, and creative vision. I cherish my role in being present for one small part of the journey, and I know how much travel and pilgrimage has the potential to transform hearts and lives as it has done for my own.

I am so delighted with the wonderful reception my newest book The Soul’s Slow Ripening: 12 Celtic Practices for Seeking the Sacred  has been receiving (special thank you to everyone who has written an Amazon review!) This book feels very much like a harvest of my time living here in Ireland for the past six years, a book I could not have written without my lived experience of the land and her people. I am also working with Paraclete Press currently on my collection of poems, Dreaming of Stones, which will be out next February/March 2019. This also feels like a rich harvest of my life here where I have found such a thriving and supportive community of poets. Even with all of the nonfiction books I have written, a poetry collection feels like an extra special thing.

Next spring our Ireland pilgrimages are almost full – two pilgrimages and two writing retreats, one of which is a brand new program I am thrilled to be offering in collaboration with two beautiful souls who live here in Ireland as well. Get in touch if you would like to register for the remaining spaces. I will also be traveling back to Seattle to lead a writing retreat (also full) and present at the Spiritual Directors International conference, which I am sure will feel like a coming home on many levels, even though the Pacific Northwest is no longer where I live, it lives in me in many ways. Then the spring will be capped off by leading a poetry retreat in Chartres, France where we will have the opportunity to walk the labyrinth in the cathedral, something I have always dreamed of doing. Please consider joining me there!

Then begins our year of sabbatical, a Jubilee year because it will be our fiftieth year of life for both of us (John and I are born a day apart). More details to come about how that looks for the Abbey (not to worry, email newsletters will continue). In talking with someone last spring about how to plan for the Jubilee year, especially in financial terms, she shared that she hoped my year of planning would be woven through with the spirit of Jubilee itself. And that has definitely been the case as I anticipate what that year of rest and time for focused writing might bring to me. It brings me that much more gratitude for the gift of work to sustain us now.

We are approaching the time of the ancestors. Honoring my own ancestral line continues to be a significant part of my own spiritual practice. Every year we offer a short online retreat to practice this together in community (details here and the early registration discount ends tomorrow). It is rich work, a path of deep healing and opening up to the immense love and support we have behind each of us. I have been calling on my grandmothers and grandfathers to guide me through the fullness of this time and to help me prepare for our sabbatical with wisdom and grace.

October is my favorite month because of the quality of evening light which shimmers golden and radiant as each day comes to a close. I love the autumn for its call to release what does not serve but also to celebrate the harvest of my life. Recently the word “surplus” has been calling to me to sit with it again. Surplus for me means not just keeping my life sustainable in terms of energetic demands, but to seek ways to welcome in an overflowing of energy and capacity to meet the demands of the world.

What are you harvesting right now dear monks? What gifts are being offered back to you after years of experience and dedication? Where are you finding glimpses of the surplus of your life?

With great and growing love,


Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

Photo © Christine Valters Paintner

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