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

Monk in the World Guest Post: Christina Lelache

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Christina Lelache’s reflection and photo essay on the community of wildflower saints.

Early in 2022, I began to feel a need for a new way to connect with God on Sunday mornings. My point of contact for many years had been through attending worship at church, often in a leadership role. I had stepped away from attending Sunday services when I began my leave of absence from pastoral ministry, and although my spirit breathed a sigh of relief to not be “working” on Sunday mornings, I found I still longed for the regularity of time set aside to connect with the sacred. Thinking of the experiences I had when I felt close to God or in a spirit of worship, I realized they shared a common theme — they had taken place in the cathedral of earth, sky, and sea. So I decided to begin a weekly practice of going to nearby parks and nature preserves on Sunday mornings, often with my camera in hand, to listen, to pray, and to be in communion with God as found in nature. What I found since beginning this practice is that, as Thomas Berry describes, nature is not a collection of objects but a communion of subjects. If the sanctuary I resonated with was nature herself, then the wildflowers, the clouds, the wildlife, the rocks — they were my fellow congregants, a more-than-human communion of saints who could preach with such simplicity, depth, and beauty if only I had ears to listen to a long-forgotten language. Even as I’ve been finding my way back into a human church community, I still spend time with my more-than-human kin weekly, deepening into relationship with a couple of particular places. Photographing these saints is a way for me to pray with them and to celebrate their beauty and companionship on my journey. 

"The wildflower saints provoke me to remember
...that the soul remembers its essence,
if it is given room to grow."
-- Gunilla Norris, Journeying in Place
Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata)
Purpletop (Tridens flavus)
Eastern Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis) in winter
Monarch Butterfly and Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Christina Lelache is a photographer, writer, mother, naturalist in training, and pastor in the United Methodist Church. She is currently taking leave from active ministry and exploring the connections between nature, spirituality, and personal formation, while also delighting in the natural wonders of New Jersey. She is sharing her work at

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 »