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Abbey of the Arts Celebrates 18 Years!

Today we celebrate 18 years since Abbey of the Arts was created. In its first year it was a blog called The Sacred Art of Living where I was retraining myself to write for a broader audience after my highly academic training. A few months in and I realized what I was writing my way toward was a virtual monastery. 

In those first few years I was teaching theology at Seattle University and also served as Program Coordinator for the Ignatian Spirituality Center in Seattle, and while I did love that work, my heart was longing for something different. I kept following the green thread luring me forward as the Abbey grew and eventually became my full-time ministry and place of service. It was an act of trust in what was unfolding, always surprising me with its gifts and invitations. 

I am thinking a lot about steadiness of presence these days. John and I will celebrate 30 years of marriage in September and I am grateful for these two pillars of relationship and work which have endured over the long haul. 

Yesterday we completed our 9-day Celtic virtual pilgrimage for the feast of Bealtaine and May Day. There is something so wonderfully intimate about gathering together each day for shared prayer, even via Zoom. Even though we had been preparing this material for over a year, having filmed our wonderful local guides last April and May, stepping into the shared journey with our wondrous community was such a sacred gift. Each morning I’d pray with the materials for several hours, listening for what needed to be said later in the live session and how the meditations might unfold. And each day I would listen for Spirit, for the Irish saints and ancestors, for the wisdom of the land and our guides, and for the wisdom of our pilgrims as it emerged each day. 

I am also thinking a lot about harvest. I turn 54 in June, so am pretty sure I am more than halfway through my life. It is hard to express the fullness of joy I feel at all I have gained over these last many years showing up to do this work of contemplative presence, creative practice, and community building. I am far from done with my work in the world. So many creative ideas and longings continue to bubble up, despite my physical limitations. I keep learning more about slowing down and how the harvest sustains me in that place of spaciousness and letting go of hopes for any particular outcome. 

Each day wonder, gratitude, joy, curiosity, beauty, love, and community sustain me, inspire me, galvanize me. 

Every morning I enter my time of meditation with prayers of gratitude for you my dear dancing monks. What a witness to a hurting world of the power of love and creativity to transform. 

What is blossoming forth in your hearts as we cross this threshold of the sacred turning of the year? 

What are the things/people/ideas you have remained committed to over the long haul? 

What is the harvest this has brought? 

With great and growing love,

Christine

Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

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