Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
Simon and I are in the midst of our Virtual Celtic Pilgrimage for Samhain and are delighted to also be sharing with you a brand new 7-day prayer cycle of morning and evening prayers on the theme of The Soul of a Pilgrim. The first two audio podcasts for Day 1 morning and evening prayer are being released today on the theme of Hearing the Call and Responding! The podcasts for each day will be released week by week through November and December. This is one of the many free resources we offer to our community to help support your contemplative practice and prayer. (If you are able to support this work financially in any way, we gratefully accept contributions at this link.)
Our previous prayer cycles have been on the themes of Earth Monastery, Monk in the World, and Birthing the Holy: Wisdom of Mary and the Sacred Feminine. This series on pilgrimage companions my book The Soul of a Pilgrim which has been a big favorite among many of you for years. The themes and invitations of pilgrimage apply to our everyday lives as well. As St. Benedict teaches about the monastic practice of conversion, we are always on a journey, always growing, deepening, unfolding, discovering. If we think we have arrived or have nothing left to learn, we are in trouble.
On my own pilgrimage of life, one of the things that has been hugely enriching to be in an ongoing way has been our Lift Every Voice book club to center contemplative writers of color and expand our understanding of the contemplative and mystical life.
This month’s book club selection is Abuelita Faith: What Women on the Margins Teach Us About Wisdom, Persistence and Strength by Kat Armas. I am feeling very blessed by the opportunity to read so many wonderful books in conversation with the authors and my podcast partner Claudia Love Mair. It has been a powerful way to practice humility and expand my vision.
Kat beautifully weaves in stories from her mother and grandmother and women ancestors with biblical stories about women. She asks the question of what theological reflection looks like when we center the perspectives of those the church or academy would not traditionally consider to be theologians but have an embodied wisdom about what it is to live a meaningful life guided by Spirit.
Kat is Cuban-American and she describes her ancestors as border crossers who inhabited multiple in-between worlds. “Nepantla” is a Spanish word for the in-between state, uncertain terrain, constant tension, healing, and transformation. With my own love of threshold spaces—and certainly pilgrimage is itself a threshold place—I loved hearing these voices from the margins and the wisdom they offer to us.
She writes to reclaim intuitive wisdom in a culture that worships the rational. She describes the Holy Spirit as the “wild child” of the Trinity and the breath of God as guiding her ancestors in their knowledge of herbal medicine and other intuitive wisdom such as co-creation through art-making by hand. In her chapter on dance, she describes it as a form of embodied knowing. “The wisdom our bodies hold is sacred; they have a knowledge and language of their own.”
This is also a book about truth-telling and justice-seeking. She describes the Magnificat: “Mary’s war cry is one of justice, calling forth God’s liberating revolution. Her cry of justice and liberation is one that announced the inauguration of a new kingdom, one that stands in contrast to the kingdoms of oppression and exploitation.”
We encourage you to buy a copy of Abuelita Faith by Kat Armas and listen to our conversation with her.
Join Simon and me tomorrow for our November prayer service on the theme of Samhain! We will be joined by Wisdom Council member Therese Taylor-Stinson who will be guiding us in a meditation on the ancestors.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE