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Transfiguration and Program Updates

A Blessing for Transfiguration

Radiant God, 
open our eyes to all the ways
the sacred shimmers before us,
how gold pours forth from the robin’s throat,
how sunlight returns each morning,
how the moon glitters across still water,
how laughter around the table kindles joy,
how kindness can change lives. 
Free us from our need to seize these moments, 
to make of them stone monuments
rather than tabernacles of light
we carry with us in our hearts. 
This vision is not a call 
to stay on the mountain
but to gather our treasures
into an open embrace, 
to make the slow pilgrimage into the world,
to share them freely after our descent,
in a world so hungry for beauty. 
Help us to remember
to keep our seeing clear, attuned, 
present to your unfolding before us. 
Let us see your glow
erupting in all the hidden corners,
in all the places you
have been forgotten.

(from a forthcoming book of blessings by Christine)

Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration, that powerful story of Jesus going up the mountain and being transformed in front of the disciples. I love the interpretation of this story, that it is the disciples whose eyes were opened to see more clearly, rather than Jesus’ nature being changed. They were able to see the divinity in him radiating out into the world. This is ultimately what our contemplative journey is about, cultivating a deeper way of seeing the world, so that everything shimmers with the sacred. 

We hope you have had a restful summer. We always cherish this time of quiet reflection and dreaming into the new academic year of programs. I have savored having some time to simply be and deepen into the sacred rhythms of life. 

Out of this wellspring of rest, flows forth our calendar for the coming months which you can find here. Most of the year’s programs have been posted there with special thanks to our program coordinator Melinda for her wonderful work putting that together. We have discerned a few small changes at Abbey of the Arts to honor slower and gentler rhythms including a reduction in the number of regular monthly events and our mini-retreats will now mostly be on Fridays for two hours.

As most of you know, I released my third poetry collection last spring, Love Holds You: Poems and Devotions for Times of Uncertainty. I am delighted that Mercy by the Sea retreat center is hosting me for an online program inspired by this book on August 18th. We will be diving into poetry to help us explore all the ways we experience the Source of Love holding us through challenging times. 

This is the year of love here at the Abbey, as my next book will be published on August 18th titled The Love of Thousands: How Angels, Saints, and Ancestors Walk with Us Toward Holiness. It is available now for pre-order at a variety of online booksellers. This work is the culmination of over twenty years of my own journey with all those wise and well ones beyond the veil between worlds. There will be a variety of programs coming in the fall, winter, and spring to support you in deepening your own connections to the love of thousands including our companion album of songs and our newest prayer cycle audio podcast (released in October and November). 

We are thrilled to be welcoming the delightful Carmen Acevedo Butcher, a scholar and translator of mystical texts, and now dear friend of the Abbey, who will be leading a retreat for us on the classic contemplative work, The Cloud of Unknowing on August 26th. Carmen is also the newest member of our Wisdom Council.

We also return to our Lift Every Voice Book Club with Dr. Yolanda Pierce’s beautiful book, In My Grandmother’s House.  She shares the wisdom of her grandmother and describes prayer as a contradiction, as a petition, as an intercession (“the act of standing in the cosmic gap for others), as a celebration, and as a primary form of speech. She quotes James Baldwin: “If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving,” which is the heart of our contemplative journeys. 

The richest part of this work for me is conversation and collaboration. While much of our contemplative journey unfolds in the solitude of the caves of our hearts, just as essential are the dialogues we have with one another. Listening and letting ourselves be changed, shaped, transformed by the images another person carries in their inner sanctuary is the gift of community. True contemplation always leads us into deeper intimacy with others, it always sparks a growing love for the world. I am blessed by the wisdom of our many guest teachers and by all of you who show up and participate in our programs in various ways, offering your insights and care to one another.

With great and growing love,


Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

P.S. August 1st was the Celtic feast of Lughnasa which marks the harvest and a shift that hints to the coming of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. I wrote a Lughnasa Blessing which you can read here.

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