Monk in the World podcast (Community) + Writing Into Bloom ~ A Love Note from Your Online Abbess

For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
and come!
--Song of Songs 2:11-13

Spring and all its flowers now
joyously break their vow of silence.
It is time for
celebration, not for
lying low.
--Hafiz

Dearest monks and artists,

We have our next morning and evening podcasts available on the theme of community. We are delighted to share these with you and pray together as a global community of monks, artists, and pilgrims. There is something about springtime that sparks in me a longing to connect more deeply with my friends and others. A joy that is kindled I want to share through conversation and presence.

I believe deeply that the seasons have a great deal of spiritual wisdom to offer us if we make space to listen. They teach us of the cycles and seasons of the earth and of our own lives. We are invited into the movements of blossoming, fullness, letting go, and rest, over and over again. Just like the lunar cycles of the moon's waxing and waning, so too does the body of the earth call us into this healing rhythm.

As the northern hemisphere enters the season of blossoming we are called to tend the places of our lives that still long for winter's stillness as well as those places ready to burst forth into the world in a profusion of color. It takes time to see and listen. Around us the world is exploding in a celebration of new life, and we may miss much of it in our seriousness to get the “important things” of life done.

Lynn Ungar has a wonderful poem titled "Camas Lilies" in which she writes: "And you -- what of your rushed and / useful life? Imagine setting it all down -- / papers, plans, appointments, everything, / leaving only a note: "Gone to the fields / to be lovely. Be back when I'm through / with blooming." Spring is a time to set aside some of the plans and open ourselves to our own blooming.

There is a playfulness and spontaneity to the season of spring that invites us to join this joyful abandon. As Hafiz writes, spring is a time for singing forth and celebration. We are called to both listen deeply to the blossoming within ourselves as well as to forget ourselves -- setting aside all of our seriousness about what we are called to do and simply enter the space of being. In this field of possibility we discover new gifts.

On my daily walks in Galway I have seen clusters of crocuses thrusting themselves out from the ground into the brilliant sunlight. The branches of cherry trees begin to hum, preparing to burst forth. Small shoots are ready to press outward, anticipating their explosion into a pink spectacle of petals. And in my presence to this dynamic energy I discover places within me humming and bursting forth. I notice my own deep longings wanting to emerge in vibrant ways.

The fertility of spring speaks of an abundantly creative God who is at the source of the potent life force beating at the heart of the world. Created in God's image, we are called to participate in this generous creativity ourselves. Our own blossoming leads us to share our gifts in service to others.

In the Hebrew scriptures the promise of God's abundance is often conceived of as blossoming in the desert. In that harsh landscape, a flower bursting forth from the dry land is a symbol of divine generosity, fruitfulness, and hope. Hope is a stance of radical openness to the God of newness and possibility. When we hope, we acknowledge that God has an imagination far more expansive than we do.

Take time this week to meditate with gratitude on a flower, appreciating all of its qualities of beauty, how it simply is what it was created to be. Allow yourself to fill with joyful gratitude for the gifts of the earth. Open yourself to experience the fullness of this flower and all of the ways God delights in the beauty of blossoms.

Then shift your focus from the flower to yourself. Take this sense of wonder and awe at the beauty of the flower and imagine how God gazes with delight on the beauty of who you are. What aspects of your being can you imagine God relishing? What are the longings inside of you God is asking you to embrace?

Rest in this awareness of the joy and delight of God in your own beautiful blossoming for several minutes. Notice what new longings it stirs in you.

I gave a 20-minute poetry reading for Paraclete Press on Instagram Live this week and read mostly poems about springtime (you also get a small window into my office and our dog Sourney makes an appearance as well). You can watch the recording of it here. Also my poem “At the End of Time” was published in Spiritus journal. You can read it here. And in other publishing news my book Earth, Our Original Monastery was named a finalist in the Spirituality category for the Association of Catholic Publishers Excellence in Book Publishing awards!

Next Saturday is the Celtic feast of Beltaine which initiates the season of Earth’s fertility. If you’d like to deepen into your soul’s own blossoming through creative writing please join me for a Zoom mini-retreat Writing Into Bloom on May 1st hosted by St. Placid Priory (the Benedictine monastery where I am an Oblate).

With great and growing love,

Christine

Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

Photo © Christine Valters Paintner

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