Visit the Abbey of the Arts online retreat platform to access your programs:

The Dance of Conflict Transformation ~ A Love Note from Your Online Abbess

Dearest monks and artists,

We are so delighted to be welcoming Wisdom Council member Dena Jennings to lead a workshop for us on Dances of Conflict Transformation. Dena runs her own community in Virginia which she calls a Farmashramonastery. 

She shares some of her wisdom here with us: 

In the workshop we will look at the lives of 1st, 3rd, and 6th century saints. We will examine how each saint’s character can lead us as we work to transform social conflicts. You will have the opportunity to reflect on their lives while virtually visiting locations on the Farmashramonastery in the Appalachian piedmont of Virginia. Here is an example of one offerings from the workshop— the story of Saint Maria of Mesopotamia.

Maria was the niece of Saint Abramius, a 3rd century mystic and great leader who lived in the mountains of Mesopotamia in a stone cell. When Maria’ s parents died, Saint Abramius welcomed her to live in the desert and built a cell for her near him. He became a second father to her. He taught her the deep mystical ways of prayer and penance. As she advanced quickly in the ways of spiritual life, Maria became known for her piety and wise advice even at a young age. 

Not everyone who visited the aesthetics and mystics in the desert had good intentions. Just like today, some people may not even be aware of their intentions. They are just along for the adventure. This behavior can introduce conflict in communities. One such man came to visit Saint Abramius for counsel. Seeing the beauty of Maria, he became a frequent visitor and pretended to seek spiritual advice. 

Over time, the man confused and seduced young Maria, and eventually stole her virtue. Maria fell into deep shame and despair. In silence, she ran from her life in the desert and the care of her uncle. 

Maria moved to a brothel in the large city nearby where she sold her beauty and her body. It took a long while, but her uncle eventually found her. Saint Abramius assured her that she was loved in spite of the trauma she endured. Maria returned to the desert where she lived a life of wisdom, healing, and the gift of miracles that benefited many.

Conflict Transformation Application

  1. Everyone has a voice in the conflict even those who are silent.
  2. Remember those marginalized or silenced by the conflict. 
  3. No one knows the end of the story. Conflict Transformation is a journey. 
  4. Imagine the full potential of reconciliation in spite of past mishaps.


Reflect on a time in conflict you’ve experienced when you or a marginalized party, person, or group retreated.

What was done or could have been done to welcome you/them to the table to continue the work?

Please join us this Friday for The Dance of Conflict Transformation. 

With great and growing love,


Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

Image © Canva Licensing

You might also enjoy

Monk in the World Guest Post: Meg Munro

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Meg Munro’s reflection and paintings on her relationship with the Beloved Mother-Virgin. I had been despairing that my passion for painting was

Read More »