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

The Spirit of Jubilee: A Love Note from Your Online Abbess

Fling wide the gates,
open the ancient doors,
and the Holy One will come in!

—Psalm 24

Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,

In preparation for our Jubilee year of sabbatical I have been reading Maria Harris’ book Jubilee Time: Celebrating Women, Spirit, and the Advent of Age. She begins with the image of Crossing the Threshold which has been a potent one for me for many years, perhaps because I have felt my life to be a whole series of thresholds summoning me to new mysteries and adventures. She draws from the biblical text which John explored for you in last week’s love note. Jubilee is a time of both letting go and deepening into freedom.

Approaching my 50thyear I feel grateful every morning for this life I lead, with a wonderful husband, in a beautiful landscape, with many collaborators, and meaningful work with open-hearted participants. I feel as though the year ahead offers me a chance to savor even more, to rest into spaciousness and discover what awaits me there. Maria Harris describes the 50thyear as an orientation time. She mentions the ancient practice of orienting churches along the east-west axis so that the altar faces the dawn and the time of new beginning. This is a time to begin again. She also includes the quote from Psalm 24 above in her text and I read in it an invitation to make space for the sacred to enter my life in new ways.

I enjoy getting older and the wisdom that life experience brings with it. I cherish the keen awareness I have of my limited days on earth and how I want to inhabit this time. The season ahead is an opportunity to realign myself with what makes my heart sing the loudest and to see where perhaps my energy no longer needs to be directed.

Maria Harris writes: “Saying no is a significant Jubilee moment. It symbolizes turning away from external demands on our time and acknowledging we have a right, even a duty, not to say yes to every request that comes our way.” I have long been a fan of the word no, of setting clear boundaries so my energy can thrive. But sometimes a pause is necessary to reevaluate, to see where there have been perhaps too many yeses.

Many of you might be familiar with the concept of peregrinatio which I have written about many times. This Celtic form of pilgrimage involves stepping into a boat without rudder or oar, and letting the currents of divine love on the wind and water carry them to the place of their resurrection. This year ahead feels in many ways like a practice of setting aside my own agenda as much as possible. I have been asked many times by folks what we’ll be doing during our sabbatical. And while there are some practical answers to that question – a book I am committed to write on Sacred Time, a couple of pilgrimage experiences that have called to our hearts – mostly I am hoping for time to just listen deeply to where the currents of my life are carrying me now. My planning mind wants to figure out what this time ahead will mean. My intuitive heart knows better to rest into the mystery of things and allow for holy surprises to emerge.

What plans might you release to let yourself be carried to the shores of your heart’s unfolding?

We would be really honored and delighted if you were able to support this time ahead in some way, especially to continue our website and email newsletters which cost a lot to maintain. Anything at all you can contribute is most welcome as well as your prayers and blessings!

Everyone who signs up for Level 2-4 of our Jubilee program before June 24th will be entered to win a prize – two people will be selected in a random drawing to receive the audiobook version of The Soul’s Slow Ripening: 12 Celtic Practices for Seeking the Sacred. Winners will be contacted the week of June 25th.

With great and growing love,


Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

Photo © Christine Valters Paintner

You might also enjoy

Monk in the World Guest Post: Janeen R. Adil

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series. Read on for Janeen Adil’s reflection and poem about liminality. Thresholds and doorways make for evocative images; as a monk in the world, I am drawn to a

Read More »

Preparing for Advent + Prayer Cycle Day 7

Dear monks, artists, and pilgrims,  Today we share the final two audio podcasts of our 7-day prayer cycle on the theme of The Love of Thousands. The theme for morning is on ancestral earth and deep time, honoring that our ancestors are not just our human

Read More »

Monk in the World Guest Post: Susan Blagden

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Susan Blagden’s contemplative photographs and poems inspired by the work of Thomas Merton. As a contemplative photographer, coach and priest, I seek

Read More »