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Monk in the World Video Podcasts (Creative Joy) ~ A Love Note from Your Online Abbess

Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,

It is with great joy that we share our final video podcasts for morning and evening prayer in the Monk in the World prayer cycle. Our last principle of the Monk Manifesto is Creative Joy! This principle is about cultivating our practice of being a dancing monk in the world and allowing wonder and delight to guide our days. If you’ve been enriched by these free resources for prayer, please consider offering a donation to help support our continued development of the prayer cycle. We are grateful for the generosity of this community. 

As the season of Advent approaches, we invite you to join Betsey Beckman and Kathleen Kichline next Friday – Saturday, November 19-20th for a mini-retreat Once Upon a Time in a Town Called Nazareth. This will be a time of Sabbath to journey with the young Jewish girl, Mary as she encounters the Angel Gabriel and says “yes!” to God’s call. Through creative practices, ritual, and imagination, we will explore how God calls each of us to the gift of incarnation and invites us to the birthing of new life. It’s a wonderful way to enter Advent and practice the principle of Creative Joy! Below is a reflection by Betsey and Kathleen.

Advent comes around each year and offers such a lovely chance to contemplate Mary as a vessel of incarnation and invitation to us all.  Luckily, we (Kathleen Kichline and Betsey Beckman) have discovered that this is a subject the two of us are equally passionate about!  Hosting Once Upon a Time in a Town Called Nazareth. has become an annual live event, and this past year we discovered our retreat adapts to life online beautifully, surprising even us with how meaningful, intimate, and beautiful it can be.  

Sabbath is a subject near and dear to Abbey aficionados and has recently been explored by Rabbi Zari Weiss in her retreat at the Abbey.  For our retreat, framed by the beautiful rhythms of Shabbat, we enter the “once upon a time” story, and go back to a time before the world knew of how God’s unique incarnation on Earth would take place, before the Christ’s inbreaking changed history forever.  Friday evening sets the stage, as we join in welcoming Sabbath just as a young Jewish girl would have done in her small first-century town in Palestine.  With Mary, we enter a time of not-knowing, and expectant waiting within our own lives.  On Saturday morning, all heaven breaks loose!  We witness how God’s messenger in angelic form visits this young girl asking her to be a part of the Divine plan.  Her remarkable response and our invitation to do the same, is explored through story-dance, art, poetry, and prayerful reflection.  This timeless moment becomes incarnate again, here, and now in our lives and world.  

Both Kathleen and I (Betsey) know the terrifying and awe-inspiring moments of experiencing Spirit in our lives, and we share a common passion for responding with courage and humility.  If you’ve attended many events at Abbey of the Arts, you will know that my response includes carefully cavorting across mountaintops and through monasteries, playfully dancing with life and inviting you to join in!  I am delighted to introduce you to my friend and colleague, Kathleen Kichline, who has journeyed deeply into the scriptural stories of women and finds inspiration there to live her own life’s “Amen.”  She has a gentle, thought-provoking approach to the stories in Scripture that teases meaning out and invites the listener in.  I am excited about her forthcoming book: WHY THESE WOMEN? Four Stories You Need to Read Before You Read the Story of Jesus. 

It is a joy for Kathleen and me to work together and inspire one another.  The bond between us and the immediacy of our interaction has become a tangible part of the retreat itself.  This year, our retreat will take place before Advent begins and will hopefully set the stage for a rich season of joy and reflection.  We are so pleased this year to invite the community of Abbey of the Arts on this journey to Nazareth and back again through the gift of Sabbath. 

With great and growing love,


Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

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