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A Letter to My Adolescent Self ~ A Love Note from Your Online Abbess

Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,

I am delighted to share I have a third poetry collection being published on May 9th from Paraclete Press titled Love Holds You: Poems and Devotions for Times of Uncertainty

In reading one of Kim Addonizio’s poems, her last line was “listen I love you joy is coming” and something about it shimmered for me in the moment. The poem was addressing her younger self, I suddenly felt connected to the young girl I once was. Like many of you, I had wounded parents and was in a very dysfunctional family system. I often marvel at my life now, knowing how painful and lonely my adolescence often felt. 

I invite you to take a few deep breaths and then read the poem below slowly. Then watch the poem video version and see if the images add any new layers for you. If the images distract you, close your eyes and just listen to me reading to you. 


A Letter to My Adolescent Self 

“listen I love you joy is coming” 
—Kim Addonizio

Listen, I know life right now
feels like heartache 
is your mother tongue,
parents who live in the shadows,
you stumbling down 
the dark corridors of youth 
trying all the locked doors
and knobs breaking off in your hands.

I won’t promise this heartache ends.
You’ll lose people you love: death, betrayal,
a slow fade. Some will dissolve
like salt on the tongue. There will be moments
you’re sure you are drowning, arms flailing,

but sometimes your frantic waving
will summon a joy you never knew could exist
arriving like an elephant emerging
from a still forest or a hatching egg placed
in your palm, and you will know delight
is not an afterthought, nor a luxury,
but an amaryllis opening the first petal,
its red tongue whispering secrets
of all the loves it has ever known.


After reading, allow a little time for reflection:

What advice do you have for your younger self? 

If you could whisper in their ear across time, what do you want them to know? 

You might engage in a breath prayer imagining your younger self:

Breathe in: listen I love you

Breathe out: joy is coming

An affirmation if it resonates with your heart. Feel free to choose your own words:

I open my heart to joy today by paying attention to small miracles. I send this joy back to myself in those moments of heartbreak and painful uncertainty.

Please consider ordering a copy of Love Holds You: Poems and Devotions for Times of Uncertainty for yourself and for any friends who love soulful, reflective poetry. Each poem in the collection has one or more reflection questions and an accompanying affirmation. (Paraclete is offering a 20% discount for pre-orders when you use the code LoveHoldsYou at their website). 

Join Simon and me for our contemplative prayer service tomorrow!

With great and growing love,


Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

Poem Video by Luke and Jake Morgan of Morgan Creative

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