Monk in the World Guest Post: Kathryn Coneway

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Kathryn Coneway’s reflection on being a monk and artist.

I want to start living like a monk…

quiet, listening
feeling patterns – from the drum of heartbeat
to the timber of voice
and the cadence of speech
Waking early becomes less a chore
and more a sacred rhythm
The dog’s eager animal companionship
guides me to a friend for the journey
to move, to begin, to be aware
in the pre-dawn hours.
A moving into the world
rather than away –
taking with me an inner rhythm –
my touchstones, breathing,
pausing to see the patterns,
points of connection.

I am going to start living like an artist…

Well, yes,
but maybe out loud
this time,
a bit less hidden
Remembering
I am
following
an ancient path.
Tapping into the old way,
into wisdom.
Deep and worn smooth
by the touch of hands,
High touch,
seeking connection
The art of living, making,
and learning
to frame my practice

Art is a way to newness
around each bend
openness to begin
and to see where the practice leads,
to invite others on the journey
to share vision.
I want to start living like a mystic…

full of wonder, curiosity, awe
to let dreams weave between
black branches
and to stand tall
and in contrast
like that white-barked tree

I want to come out of hiding
without feeling I must DO
something to earn my place

My place is reverence,
attention,
eye contact,
soft voices,
space for now to happen,
to be discovered anew.

I wrote this poem several years ago, the first time I read The Artist’s Rule.  I was in a time of transition, having just closed an art studio I ran for the previous seven years and looking to make more time for my artist self and my own creative practice.  Part of my self reflection during this time was realizing how well I framed space for others to do creative work and to share and how much I also needed to find a way to frame that space for my own practice.

The identities of monk, artist and mystic spoke to me then and continue to do so.  My journey as an artist continues to evolve but today it includes more time for my own creative practice as well as work in community with leading groups in exploring the sacred space created through shared creative practice.

My personal mission statement for my work is as follows and grows out of pieces of the identities of monk, artist and mystic in my poem:

A studio is a sacred space – a space to explore and form relationships with materials, with others and with a deeper sense of self.  The act of making quiets the mind, invites us to be fully present and opens us up to connections.  Moments of connection spark curiosity, wonder, gratitude, and the urge to share what we discover.  Sometimes we leave traces in images and objects we make; other times are more fleeting and leave their mark in new ways of seeing, empathy for another or a feeling of groundedness and connection to something greater. Community helps hold and tend this space – a creative and spiritual home for solitude as well as shared experience.


Kathryn is most energized by how community forms around creative practice.  A practicing artist, she focuses on collages inspired by time spent in nature and on creating color wheels as a contemplative practice.  Through her business, Art at the Center, she conducts teacher training and workshops for community groups on artistic practice. She is the author of two children’s books and creates miniature labyrinths for Art-o-mat, a program that converts retired cigarette machines into art vending machines. A role dear to her heart is directing art camp at Shrine Mont Camps for the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.  More of Kathryn’s art and writing can be found on her website, www.kathrynconeway.com

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