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Category: Monastic Spirituality


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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Radical Hospitality

This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. [S]he may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond. -Rumi I am very grateful

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Abbey Bookshelf: Ash Wednesday Edition

I love Ash Wednesday.  We have so few rituals that are quite so earthy.  Everyone is welcome to come and receive those ashes on the forehead, that reminder that we are from dust and to dust we shall return.  It doesn’t strike me as morbid in the least, but a compelling reminder of the preciousness of our days. In the Christian liturgical calendar Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the forty days of Lent, that season we so often associate with giving things up.  Last year I shared a reflection I gave at my church the year prior suggesting the need for lament

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Preparing for Autumn

The equinox is in a week, one of the two dates when the sun hovers above the equator and day and night are equal. In the solar calendar it is also the beginning of autumn.  Here in Seattle we are starting to get hints of autumn’s arrival — cooler days that are getting noticeably shorter from their wide expanse of summer, plants and leaves just beginning their process of decay and letting go in preparation for winter.  If I walk slowly and look closely I see the signs all around me. Autumn is a season of change, reminding us that

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A Visual Meditation

I have been tired today and not feeling all that well.  It has been a slow day.  So I make a simple offering tonight — go over to Anchors and Masts where Tess has created a beautiful video of images from Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries. It really is worth the click over (I am even too tired to figure out how to embed it here) and the four minutes of viewing time.  Turn up your volume and listen to the lovely song as well. Peace to you this day. -Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

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Contemplative Living

A great reflection by Robert Toth at the Merton Insitute:  “Do you consider yourself a contemplative person? Would you say that you live contemplatively?” Having asked these questions of hundreds of people, we find that most people do not see themselves as contemplative or feel they are living contemplatively. Most defined contemplative living as leading a less busy, more quiet life or engaging in certain practices such as meditation, centering prayer or yoga. In the popular imagination contemplative living is still influenced by the close connection between contemplation and monks and nuns who leave “the world” and live in monasteries.

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