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Category: Abbess love notes


Miriam on the Shores (a love note from your online Abbess)

Miriam on the Shores “All the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing.” –Exodus 15:20 Her skirt hangs heavy with seawater, staccato breath after running from death. She can still feel soldiers reaching out to seize her blouse before the waves caved in. Collapsing on dry earth for a moment, the impulse to dance begins in her feet, spreads slowly upwards like a flock of starlings rising toward a dawn-lit sky. So many dances in secret before, night-stolen movements after exhausting days heaving stones and harvest. She finds herself now upright, weeping. To stand here, face to the

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Landscape as Sacred Text (a love note from your online Abbess)

Dearest monks and artists, It was such a joy to return from our trip to the States last week and feel as though we were coming home to Galway. We recently made the decision to have our small storage unit, which has been waiting for us in Seattle ever since we moved two and a half years ago, shipped over to us. It has mostly boxes of family photos and two pieces of furniture from my father’s side of the family, as well as an oil painting of my grandmother. I have missed these family connections. Making this decision felt

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New Dancing Monk Icons (a love note from your online Abbess)

Dearest monks and artists, I am just back in Ireland now after almost three weeks traveling in the U.S. for teaching and visiting family. It was a magical time away. I led two retreats – the Sacred Rhythms Writing and Movement Retreat in Cape May, NJ where 18 amazing dancing monks joined to dive deep into the creative well together. Then came a few days of rest and renewal in Maine visiting my aunt and her husband which was a the perfect time of play and exploration. And finally came the Exploring Archetypes through Expressive Arts Retreat in Reading, PA with

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Feast Day of Hildegard of Bingen (a love note from your online Abbess)

In honor of the Feast of St. Hildegard I share a reprise of a poem I wrote in her honor (and a new reflection below): St. Hildegard Strolls through the Garden Luminous morning, Hildegard gazes at the array of blooms, holding in her heart the young boy with a mysterious rash, the woman reaching menopause, the newly minted widower, and the black Abbey cat with digestive issues who wandered in one night and stayed.  New complaints arrive each day. She gathers bunches of dandelions, their yellow profusion a welcome sight in the monastery garden, red clover, nettle, fennel, sprigs of

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St. Francis at the Corner Pub (love note from your online Abbess)

St. Francis at the Corner Pub Approaching the door, you can already hear his generous laughter. He stands on the bar upside down for a moment to get a new perspective on things, a flash of polka-dotted boxers as his brown robe cascades over his head, sandaled toes wiggling in the air in time with a fiddle playing in the corner. Rain falls heavily in the deepening darkness and he orders a round of drinks despite his vow of poverty and the single silver coin in his pocket, multiplied by the last Guinness poured. Nothing like a good glass of

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Miriam dances for freedom (a love note from your online Abbess)

Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims, I am so excited that we have the next two dancing monk icons ready to view! Marcy Hall completed King David and Prophet Miriam, both described as dancing with joy in the Hebrew Scriptures, and give us a way to honor the Jewish roots of the Christian tradition. I am moved by both images, but perhaps especially by Miriam in these difficult days where the news feels so relentless with wars being waged all around us, with children dying, with so many struggling to get their most basic needs met. John and I have been

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Embracing a Surplus (a love note from your online Abbess)

Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims, I was delighted to receive the image above the other day from fellow dancing monk and artist Karen Newe. The text comes from my book The Artist’s Rule, specifically the fourth chapter, which is one of my favorites on the importance of sacred rhythms for creative renewal. Seeing my words appear in such a visually delightful way was a gift. I have been pondering the gifts of sacred rhythms and my own creative renewal a great deal this summer with time to rest and heal and nourish myself deeply. This is a part of my own annual

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