Please note that we are taking a 2-week break from our weekly love notes (including next Sunday) and we will return on January 3rd.
Dearest monks and artists,
It has certainly been a disorienting year for us all.
So much grief and loss. So much change. So much uncertainty. It is challenging to make room for it all when we likely just want to hold onto something solid and steady.
One of the great graces this year has brought to Abbey of the Arts is a deepened sense of us as a true global community. Through our Novena last March when the pandemic first hit, to the vibrant participation in our spring, summer, and fall online retreats, to our Advent contemplative services, to our Earth Monastery Prayer Cycle podcasts, we have found some steadiness in you, our beloved dancing monks, showing up to be present together whether in real time or asynchronous time through recordings (it’s all time outside of time anyway). And of course, the solidity that comes from ancient practices rooted in our contemplative and mystical tradition remind us that we have for generations wrestled with what it means to live a meaningful life in challenging times.
The practice of embodying Christ’s spacious and generous love being born into the world through each one of us again and again seems to be at the heart of this. This is the gorgeous mystery of Advent – to each one of us receive our own Annunciation. To make space and listen for how the call might arrive and who are the angels in our lives who serve as messengers?
I come to the end of this year feeling extraordinary gratitude for each of you and for the welcoming space you co-create with us. How you dance (and write and sing and create in so many ways) with us on the wild edges of the world and find aliveness in new pathways with ancient roots. How you honor the full spectrum of your experience – sorrow and joy, grief and gladness – and know this to be the essence of our humanity and capacity for compassion.
In 2021 John and I and the Wisdom Council are excited to continue serving you in the ways that make us all come alive. We are looking toward creating another week of our Prayer Cycle that so many of you have said means so much to you. The theme for this second week will be from our Monk Manifesto and being a monk in the world (If you can help support this project with a donation, we are most grateful). We will be releasing a new album in connection with it as well. We are planning to reprise our Novena for Times of Unravelling again this year in March to reflect back on the year past of the pandemic and look ahead with hope and possibility.
I have two books being published this coming year – Sacred Time: Embracing an Intentional Way of Life – will be released in February 2021 by Ave Maria Press and – Breath Prayer: An Ancient Practice for the Everyday Sacred – will be released in fall 2021 by Broadleaf Books. This winter I am at work on a book about Mary’s names and titles that will be published in spring 2022, so as you can see the creative spirit has definitely been at work in my life!
We are taking a break from our daily emails for the next two weeks including the Sunday love note next week to have a brief sabbatical and time of rest over these sacred upcoming days. Please join us for our final Advent Contemplative Service tomorrow – Monday, December 21st – where we will be honoring the winter solstice and the story of the Annunciation. (You can also view the recordings at that link.)
We will return with our next love note to you on Sunday, January 3rd. We are very excited to be launching a revised and expanded community of our Midwinter God online retreat on January 4th. This is a wonderful chance to explore what a winter God looks like, the dark night of the soul, grief, the journey of unknowing, and more along with kindred souls.
For those of you wanting to savor some of the light and hope in ancient practices, join us on Wednesday, January 6th for a Zoom retreat on the feast of Epiphany called Following the Star. This is a great opportunity to reflect on the star you want to follow for the year ahead and my co-leader Mark Burrows is a gifted poet and scholar of mysticism.
We have other things in store for you in 2021, but we will save some of those details until the new year. In the meantime, we wish you a time of holy stillness, of listening into the silence, of making room for the sacred river of grief both collective and individual, and of tending to the holy birth that has been planted as a spark in your heart ready to be kindled into life.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE