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Give Me a Word Retreat ~ A Love Note from Your Online Abbess

Dear monks, artists, and pilgrims, 

In ancient times, wise men and women fled out into the desert to find a place where they could be fully present to the divine and to their own inner struggles at work within them. The desert became a place to enter into the refiner’s fire and be stripped down to one’s holy essence. The desert was a threshold place where you emerged different than when you entered.

Many people followed these ammas and abbas, seeking their wisdom and guidance for a meaningful life. One tradition was to ask for a word – this word or phrase would be something on which to ponder for many days, weeks, months, sometimes a whole lifetime. This practice is connected to lectio divina, where we approach the sacred texts with the same request – “give me a word” we ask – something to nourish me, challenge me, a word I can wrestle with and grow into. The word which chooses us has the potential to transform us.

What is your word for the year ahead? A word which contains within it a seed of invitation to cross a new threshold in your life?

Share your word in the comments section below by January 6, 2024 and you are automatically entered for the prize drawing (prizes listed below).


Please share your word with us in the comments below (and it would be wonderful if you included a sentence about what it means for you)

Winners will be announced on Sunday, January 12th.

If you would love a retreat experience to support you in listening for your word, letting your word ripen, and carrying your word into the year ahead, please join us for our Give Me a Word Advent and Christmas season retreat which begins today! I am joined by many wonderful guest teachers and there is a suggested practice for each day from now until Epiphany!

Join us tomorrow for our Contemplative Prayer Service where I will be joined by Simon de Voil and Polly Paton-Brown to reflect on the gifts of Mary for our journey. 

With great and growing love,


Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

P.S. We are delighted to announce the release of Birthing the Holy: Dancing with Mary and the Sacred Feminine! This digital collection of 12 dances and companion teaching videos by Betsey Beckman and guest artists offers another beautiful resource for engaging with the gifts of Mary.

Image paid license with Canva

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233 Responses

  1. I know I’m too late for the drawing, but you’ve challenged me to choose and focus on a word or theme for the year 2024.
    Being really true to self, authentic comes to mind – staying strong and determined with deep truth in everything I do. I’m especially centering my focus on offering g labyrinth walk opportunities for reconciliation needs and for playfulness for children. Blessings and healing prayers to you.

  2. How strange – I posted my comment late Jan 5 / Jan 6 and now my comment is nowhere to be found. How is it possible that it disappeared?
    “My word for the year is Leichtigkeit. Facility, ease. Related to favor and grace. But there is also some connection to the spiritual gift for the Enneagram one, which Richard Rohr calls heitere Gelassenheit in the German translation. Not sure what his original wording was. Maybe cheerful Serenity? So I’m looking forward to a year of facility, favor and serenity.”

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