Dear monks, artists and pilgrims,
Christine has written an article for Godspace Blog. An excerpt is below with a link to read the full article.
Lent is a powerful season of transformation. Forty days in the desert, stripped of our comforts, and buoyed by our commitment to daily practice so that we might arrive at the celebration of Easter deepened and renewed. And yet this year, we were challenged to a much more severe Lenten experience, where many of our daily securities have been stripped away.
How do we then approach the glorious season of resurrection, and celebrate not just for that one day, but for the full span of 50 days. How do we savor joy in the midst of so much grief and heartbreak. Easter is a span of time when days grow longer in the northern hemisphere, blossoms burst forth, and we are called to consider how we might practice this resurrection in our daily lives.
My new book Earth, Our Original Monastery is rooted in my love of monastic tradition and practice: the gifts of silence and solitude, hospitality, daily rhythms, slowness, soulful companionship, and presence to the holiness of everything are gifts our world is hungry for. Over time, I began to discover the ways that Earth herself teaches us these practices. In the Celtic tradition it is said there are two books of revelation – the big book of Nature and the small book of the scriptures. Nature is experienced as the original scripture.
Thomas Merton, the 20th century Trappist monk who was such a genius at translating contemplative wisdom for a contemporary world often found his experiences in creation as some of the most profound spiritually. He writes, “How necessary it is for the monks to work in the fields, in the sun, in the mud, in the clay, in the wind: These are our spiritual directors and our novice masters.” For Merton, the elements of water, wind, earth, and fire are our original soul friends.
The monastic tradition is also filled with stories of the kinship between saints and animals as a sign of their holiness. The desert and Celtic traditions in particular have many of these stories, such as St. Cuthbert who would emerge from the sea each morning after prayer and otters would come to dry him off and warm his feet or St. Brigid who had a white cow as a companion who would give endless milk.
And of course, the great tradition of the creation psalms gives us a window into a worldview that sees all of nature singing praise together in the original liturgy.
How do we find resurrection in a season when many will die from this pandemic? How so we practice a deep sense of hope in the midst of economic uncertainty? What might happen if we let Earth teach us a new way of being?
Imagine if, during the Easter season, we each took on practices like these:
- * Allow time and space each day to grieve fully, to release the river of tears we try to hold back so carefully. Listen to the elements and see what wisdom they offer to you for this sorrow and for how to endure.
At the top of this love note is a link to the recording of our Earth Monastery Virtual Book and Album Launch. During this hour long session, I was joined by Betsey Beckman, Simon de Voil, and Richard Bruxvoort Colligan in sharing reflections, meditation, poetry, song, and dance in celebration of the release of Earth, Our Original Monastery (the book and album).
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Video © Christine Valters Paintner