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When All Feels Lost Poem Video ~ 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

This poem emerged early on in the pandemic. It was such a disorienting time for everyone. I sensed that in the middle of feeling lost was also a gift that could help me release my need for certainties and be present to what newness was unfolding in the midst of this time of forced rest.

Read the poem slowly and see what is sparked. Then watch the poem video and see if the images add any new layers to your reflection or close your eyes and just listen to me reciting it to you. 


When All Feels Lost

The map is not the territory
—Alfred Korzybski

All the old signposts have fallen,
wood cracked and rotted,
atlases crumble, a pile of maps
flutter and dart like hummingbird
wings, the GPS signal is out of range.

Her compass slips from her hand,
the only thing she knows is that
she walks in circles now, 
the trees ahead familiar 
but really nothing is the same.
She wanders for hours, days, 
weeks, loses track of the nights 
as one tumbles into another.

Finally, she stops, builds
a bonfire from all the old maps
still in her pack, invites others 
who wander by to gather,
each of them savors warmth
from flame and kindness,
laughs while they tell stories
of how they once knew the way.

Her eyes meet another,
hand outstretched, together
their breath rises in white spirals 
into cold air and they 
stay still long enough
to learn to love the quiet ache,
the old longing to be sure,
to see the country of certainty
as a memory receding
like an evening horizon until
there is only the black bowl of sky.

They begin to hear the whisper 
of breezes, the secrets of birds,
follow the underground stream
that runs through each of them,
and they no longer ask
which way to go,
but sit and savor this 
together, under night sky
illumined by fire and stars.


Allow some time for reflection. Here are some questions to help guide you: 

What are the maps and compasses of your life that you cling to? 

How might getting lost be a way to find yourself again? 

To deepen your prayer, you might practice breath prayer:

Breathe in: I let go of maps 

Breathe out: I embrace possibility

You might close with an affirmation: 

I rest under a vast night sky, learning to trust in waiting and watching. Unknowing and mystery become close companions.

You can pre-order a copy of my book Love Holds You: Poems and Devotions for Times of Uncertainty. (Paraclete is offering a 20% discount for pre-orders when you use the code LoveHoldsYou at their website). I will be hosting a free virtual book launch on May 8th with Simon joining me to provide music. 

Listen to my interview about on the Faith Conversations podcast where I read a few poems from Love Holds You and lead reflections on the content. 

Join Melinda for a contemplative yoga practice this Thursday!

With great and growing love,


Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

Poem Video by Luke and Jake Morgan

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