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Category: Monastic Spirituality


The Call of Retreat: Silence (the Abbess is away until August 25th)

This week I follow the call to sink into the silence and stillness. Solitude calls my name and shows me my reflection as a sacred offering.  In this place the forest will ask me to embrace my truth once again. The hummingbird will invite me to sip holy nectar, the egret to stretch out my wings, the sparrows to remember my flock. Each pine cone contains an epiphany, each smooth stone offers a revelation. I will watch and witness as the sun slowly makes her long arc across the sky and discover my own rising and falling. The moon will sing of quiet miracles – like those which reveal and

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Visual Meditation: World Congress of Benedictine Oblates

A visual meditation with images from my travels during the World Congress of Benedictine Oblates in October 2009. The photos were taken in the Vatican City, Rome, Subiaco (Benedict’s Cave), Monte Cassino (Benedictine monastery), and Sant’Anselmo (Primatial Abbey). The music is by Hildegard of Bingen. © Christine Valters Paintner at Abbey of the Arts: Transformative Living through Contemplative & Expressive Arts

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Retreat & Learning Opportunities

A quick note to let you know that my Teaching Calendar has been updated with several upcoming retreat & workshop opportunities. A reminder to join Betsey Beckman and me for a wonderful Art & Movement retreat to Honor Our Ancestors over the weekend of Halloween, Samhain, and All Saint’s.  This will be a beautiful time of welcoming in the dark half of the year and the wisdom of our ancestors who beat within our very blood.  Through ritual, storytelling, art-making, gentle movement, poetry, and being in nature, we will deepen our awareness of the gifts of those who have walked

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Happy Feast of St. Hildegard

Hildegard of Bingen was my doorway into the Benedictine life.  While in graduate school I was studying for my “History of Christian Spirituality” comprehensive examination (a fearful and awesome task if there ever was one) and actually had a slight disdain for those ancient monks.  My spirituality up until that point had been quite infused by the Ignatian vision of working for justice.  I was turned off by the body-denying practices of monasticism (at least in its earlier forms) and wondered how those who chose a cloistered life could truly be engaged with the suffering of the world. Of course,

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Monastic Wisdom

A monastery can never be merely an escape from the world. Its very purpose is to enable us to face the problems of the world at their deepest level, that is to say, in relation to God and eternal life. Everything in the monastic life down to the deepest level has to be viewed from this angle.  –Bede Griffiths, The Golden String: An Autobiography The real monastic walks through life with a barefooted soul, alert, aware, grateful, and only partially at home.  -Joan Chittister, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today

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How to Be an Artist-Monk

Be. Here. This Moment Now is all there is, don’t go seeking another. Discover the sacred in your artist’s tools, they are the vessels of the altar of your own unfolding. Look at this cup of holy water, washing clean the brushes. See the blank page, awaiting your blessing. Gaze on the colors before you, each one a name of God: Saffron, Cobalt, Azure, Ruby. Say each one slowly and taste its juice in your mouth. Let this be your prayer. Brush them across the page. First the small strokes, then the larger sweeps. Lose track of all time. This

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Are you listening?

Growing up in New York City, my favorite place was The Cloisters (a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art with art from medieval European monasteries). I had fallen in love with the aesthetic dimension of monastic tradition long before I understood what that way of life really meant. The art, architecture, music, and illuminated manuscripts all made me swoon.  It wasn’t until graduate school that I really did begin to understand and fall further in love.  Hildegard of Bingen was my entrypoint.  Always having had a love of art and spirituality, I wanted to know more about this incredible woman who

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