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The Meaning of Manna ~ A Love Note from Your Online Abbess

Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,

We are delighted to welcome poet and author Nikki Grimes for a poetry reading tomorrow from her new collection Glory in the Margins

For today’s love note we are sharing one of her poems below from this collection. It is a poem about what we need to be truly nourished and how so many of us are weighed down by the multiple and conflicting demands of life. 

I invite you to begin by taking three slow deep breaths, let them out with a sigh and with each breath see if you can soften your body a bit more. Let your awareness descend into your heart and read her words with the ears of the heart attuning to the invitation for you today:

The Meaning of Manna

Image: Rush hour
on the way to a local mount.
Jesus knew a thing or two about
the stress of daily life.
The desperate crowds
clinging to the hem of his robe
made it plain:
wants pressing in 
on every side
misery multiplied
by loneliness, poverty,
food all but forgotten
in the hunger for healing.
How often are we 
crushed by need?
Yet, Christ gave us
the secret to survive
and to thrive:
we must slow long enough
to feed on the Holy. 
Oh, the body has use for
baskets of bread and fish
but what about
the manna of God’s word?
We must pause to bathe 
in the soothing waters
of his spirit
leave the weight of worry
so that we can meet
the requirements 
of the next moment
and the next
and the next— 
(Mark 6:30-56) 

-Nikki Grimes, Glory in the Margins: Sunday Poems

When was the last time you slowed long enough to feed on the Holy? 

Our world is so desperately in need of new visions and alternate ways of being. These will not arise from pushing ourselves harder, from doing more and more. Grace enters into the spaces between, when we leave room for our imagination to be kindled, for the Bringer of Newness to gift us with holy surprise. 

I am so grateful you are here reading these love notes, because it means there are many of you out there who are committed to and longing for a more contemplative way of being in the world. Who know that this way of life is an act of resistance to a world that wants us to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of production. 

We are here together, creating some space for a new world to enter. It is the work of a collective, not something we need to do on our own. 

For more poetic inspiration, please join us tomorrow for a poetry reading as we welcome the amazing poet Nikki.

I will be hosting a free Tea with the Abbess event this Friday. All are welcome to join us for a meditation, an update on our upcoming programs, and time for questions. 

With great and growing love,


Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

(Poem reprinted with permission from Paraclete Press)

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