by Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE, OblSB
Paraclete Press 2019
The poems in Dreaming of Stones are about what endures: hope and desire, changing seasons, wild places, love, and the wisdom of mystics. Inspired by the poet’s time living in Ireland these readings invite you into deeper ways of seeing the world. They have an incantational quality. Drawing on her commitment as a Benedictine oblate, the poems arise out of a practice of sitting in silence and lectio divina, in which life becomes the holy text.
No stranger to poetry, Paintner’s bestselling spirituality titles have often included poems. In this first exclusively poetic collection, she writes with a contemplative heart about kinship with nature, ancestral connections, intimacy, the landscape, the unfolding nature of time, and Christian mystics. It can be read for reflection to spark the heart and to offer solace and inspiration in difficult times.
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Praise for the Book
(Paintner) attends to what is around her as though it all belongs to the earth, whether the machinery of a hospital room or the blossoms, fruit, and leaves of trees at different seasons. . . All (the poems) offer new ways to understand. Paintner seeks to offer 'solace and inspiration for living well in the world.' --Review by Kate Clark in Presence: Journal of Spiritual Direction
Dreaming of Stones is a work of spiritual direction, inviting readers to pay attention to the world as a holy text, and find it transfigured." --Review by Danielle Davey Stulac in Presence Journal of Catholic Poetry
To enter the pages of Christine Valters Paintner's Dreaming of Stones feels akin to wandering the undulations of Celtic wilds, the barren landscape that cloisters timeless secrets and truths. It's not hard to imagine ancient ruins off in the mist-drenched distance...The poems here are distillations of the most enduring wisdoms — love, hope, heartache, the unfolding of time — penned with a painstaking eye on the earthly. Carved out of the raw stuff of existence, especially in these troubled times, these dispatches offer safe harbor for taking stock, seeing the sacred, absorbing the solace. ---Review by Barbara Mahany at The Chicago Tribune
Christine Valters Paintner explores the subversive angles created by the intersection of poetry and mysticism . . . If the connection between poetry and the monastic rhythms of silence, pilgrimage, and retreat is of special interest, this is a collection for you. ---U.S. Catholic
There is a sense in these poems of the momentary breaking through, a flash of insight, a moment of kairos. Call it liminal space or call it grace, there is a sense in these poems of those moments breaking through to us, even though ‘everything I love will end.’ . . . But where Paintner reveals her flashes of insight, of the contrast between the ticking clock with its whisper of death and the delightful textures of Queen Anne’s lace, bluebells, and dandelion seed, of ‘the ecstasy of wisteria and a soft persimmon sun,’ in those airy threads of thing and sound and soul, the collection soars, and we too, are borne aloft.” --Book review at Contemplative Light
Her poems share with her prose the influence of Celtic mysticism—she has lived in Galway, Ireland, for half a decade—and a general sense that our unimpressive and quotidian lives are full of the materials that could sustain our souls if only we’d let them. 'Our lives are filled with vessels,' she writes in a poem called 'Cup,' 'that save us each day' (ll. 21-22). Poetry, as she makes clear in her afterword, has been such a vessel for her, and she offers us her own poems in the hope that they can be of some use to us. . . There is no hope without despair, no wonder without repulsion, no love without ugliness. Paintner’s poems remind us of this truth—which we all already know instinctively—with beauty and grace." ---Book Review at Englewood Review
Christine Valters Paintner's poems have both a mystical and an earthy sensibility to them, drawing us to the transcendent as well as the immanent presence of the divine. Her poems, much like her nonfiction writing, offer the reader an experience of retreat and sacred encounter.” -Richard Rohr, OFM
Christine Valters Paintner’s poetry is a worthy companion to the prose she has already produced. There, her thoughtful analysis of the foundations of modern society stretch the reader beyond any kind of idolatry of the present. Here, she goes even further in her commitment to wed vision to understanding. In this new work, she brings poetic insight to observation. She presents the flash of light, the kernel of truth that goes deeper and more mystically into the heart of the universe than fact and faith can hope to do. She makes a bridge for us between experience and wisdom and gives us a veritable holograph of life.” -Joan Chittister, OSB
These are poems about things that really matter: the tides of time, the lure of landscape, our links to our forebears, our love of home. Paintner has a musical ear and an artist’s craft with colour and texture. The work is lushly sensual in its language, generous in its patient wisdom. Dreaming of Stones is a collection you will want to keep near you, as a source of comfort and inspiration. Here, the profound is made warmly accessible; the ordinary made wondrous.” -Susan Millar Dumars, poet, author of Dreams for Breakfast and Bone Fire
The sequences unfold like breath, a motif that holds the collection together. I found myself immersed in the flow of the poems, and the sprinkling of imagination-catching phrases like ‘brawl of light,’ until by the end I too was saying ‘yes and yes and yes.’” -Roselle Angwin, poet, author of A Trick of the Light: Poems from Iona
Paintner describes the kinship between the paths of the poet and the monk. She writes about our journeying to retrieve a lost intimacy with the world in poems sculpted as though from fine pieces of light: delicate things made beautiful for a road less travelled. More than anything I am drawn to poems inspired by the early Celtic saints of Ireland for whom nature and a God-created world were inseparable from faith. The stories they leave behind and the poems that tell them are pieces of wisdom for an age trying to travel too fast and too loudly.” -Kenneth Steven, author of Coracle, Salt and Light, and Iona.