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Queering Contemplation + Soul of a Pilgrim Video Podcast Day 3 ~ A Love Note from Your Online Abbess

Dearest monks and artists,

Blessings on this Feast of Pentecost! To read a reflection on Pentecost and holy surprise from our archives, please click here

Today we release the Day 3 video podcasts for our Soul of a Pilgrim prayer cycle. The themes for morning and evening prayer are The Practice of Crossing the Threshold. 

On Friday we are hosting Cassidy Hall who will lead a program for us called Queering Contemplation. We invited her to explain what she means by “queering” and how everyone is invited to join us:  

Read the reflection below or listen to Cassidy in an audio version.

Hello dear artists, monks, poets, theologians, wanderers, and/or anyone interested in the contemplative tradition who may not use such language. 

Many paths and identities bring us to contemplation and I want to invite each of you to an Abbey of the Arts event where we wonder together what it might mean to queer the contemplative tradition alongside finding its innate queerness. 

My name is Cassidy Hall and I’m an award-winning filmmaker, podcaster, ordained minister in the UCC (United Church of Christ), and author of the forthcoming book: Queering Contemplation: Finding Queerness in the Roots and Future of Contemplative Spirituality.

To get a bit more of any understanding of what this time together will look like, I’m going to share an excerpt from chapter one of my forthcoming book. This chapter is titled, Letting Go of the Status Quo: Queering Contemplation.

At first glance, contemplation and queerness may not seem to be related to each other. But through engaging in the contemplative life, I’ve come to learn that contemplation makes me more queer— more curious, wild, weird, fierce, free, embodied, and present. And, in turn, my queerness—in terms of both my sexuality and strangeness—has given my contemplative life more spacious- ness, permission, eroticism, and wonder. My queerness and my contemplative life have become a union of joy, pleasure, and infinite possibility. 

Queer is the way I tilt my head to look at the world. Queerness, in my life, has been not only about sexuality but also about expanse, curiosity, openness, pleasure, weirdness, love, oddity, and liberation. I deeply believe queerness lives in every human in the ways we find ourselves subverting the status quo, forgoing norms, and engaging one another with open hearts and hands. By definition, queerness relates to oddness, strangeness, eccentricity, and unconventionality. While queerness can also relate to non-hetero sexuality or to a gender that is not cisgender (because by its nature queerness refuses categories), this book engages the great expanse of the word. In what ways can all the meanings of queerness awaken contemplation and life itself? 

Because this book and my deeper work are about queering contemplation, it’s important to consider what it means to queer something. In my understanding of queer theory—as a philosophy and study of lives and expressions disentangled from heteronormativity—I am seeking to disentangle my own experience of contemplation from the grasp of Western Christian expressions formed in heteronormativity, patriarchy, and Eurocentricity/ whiteness. In my exploration of contemplation and mysticism, I hope to cultivate a conversation around the topics of strangeness, oddity, liberation, love, delight, and wonder—disentangled from manipulation, power, abuse, and violence. And these pivots take time. It is a continual process to disentangle ourselves from these dominative foundations; it takes time for us to find our own way and own voice in contemplative life. 

Join Cassidy for Queering Contemplation, an online mini-retreat this Friday!

We are delighted that Therese Taylor Stinson will be leading our monthly Centering Prayer group on Wednesday. Please join a lovely circle of kindred souls. 

With great and growing love,

Christine

Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

P.S. There was an error in one of the links to the prayer cycle last week. Click here for The Soul of a Pilgrim Day 2.

Citations:

Reprinted with permission from Queering Contemplation: Finding Queerness in the Roots and Future of Contemplative Spirituality by Cassidy Hall copyright © 2024 Broadleaf Books. 

Music in audio is by Daniele Musto and titled Into the Deep.

Image from Paid Canva License

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