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Give Me a Word ~ A Love Note from Your Online Abbess

Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,

In ancient times, wise men and women fled out into the desert to find a place where they could be fully present to the divine and to their own inner struggles at work within them. The desert became a place to enter into the refiner’s fire and be stripped down to one’s holy essence. The desert was a threshold place where you emerged different than when you entered.

Many people followed these ammas and abbas, seeking their wisdom and guidance for a meaningful life. One tradition was to ask for a word – this word or phrase would be something on which to ponder for many days, weeks, months, sometimes a whole lifetime. This practice is connected to lectio divina, where we approach the sacred texts with the same request – “give me a word” we ask – something to nourish me, challenge me, a word I can wrestle with and grow into. The word which chooses us has the potential to transform us.

As in past years, we are offering all Abbey newsletter subscribers a gift: a free 12-day online mini-retreat with a suggested practice for each day to help your word choose you and to deepen into your word once it has found you. Even if you participated last year, you are more than welcome to register again.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and you will receive a link to start your mini-retreat today. Your information will never be shared or sold.(If you are already subscribed to the newsletter, look for the link in the Sunday, December 5th email and at the bottom of each Sunday following.)


Please share your word with us in the comments on this post (and it would be wonderful if you included a sentence about what it means for you).

Share the love with others and invite them to participate. We will announce the prize winners on January 9th.

Please join us tomorrow for our Contemplative Prayer Service to celebrate Advent. And join me next Saturday for a retreat on The Spiral Way: Celtic Spirituality and the Creative Imagination.

With great and growing love,


Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

PS – You can read three of my poems in the current issue of Impspired online: Corcomroe Abbey, I Stand at My Mother’s Grave, and I Dream of My Mother. 

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12 Responses

  1. My word is Discipline, in the best possible sense. As in, becoming a disciple, using self-control and purposeful action to make my 2022 my best year yet.

  2. My word is prosperity. I have typically leaned toward “abundance”, but this process of engaging with my word has revealed that prosperity is different. It’s more like an attitude, or a presence, or a feeling; rather than an accumulation or a collection. It’s like prosperity is the context for the “stuff” of abundance.

  3. FAITH – by holding the intention to receive my word, and paying attention, this came via reading a friend’s newest novel (Everything Affects Everyone) and participating in a Sufi attunement on NY Day.

  4. The phrase which has chosen me is “Make Haste Slowly.” Committing to self-study retreat “Sacred Time: Embracing an Intentional Way of Life” is a practice which has chosen me, too.

  5. My word is celebrare, Latin for “assemble to honor,” also “to publish; sing praises of; practice often,” I love this concept of practicing being a way to honor.

  6. My word is Desire. Last year I crashed into how unpracticed I am at
    desiring… despite working hard throughout my adulthood to NOT put my
    needs behind everyone else’s! Maybe that’s the nuance: when I had
    turbulent teens, I focused on affirming what was, not wishing for other
    things. They’re no longer teens, and I’ve forgotten how to live

  7. My word is peace. I struggled with anxiety last year and this year I want to be far more intentional about using peace as a guide in discernment in my life.