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Earth, Our Original Monastery: Cultivating Wonder and Gratitude through Intimacy with Nature

Author: Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE, OBLSB
Ave Maria Press
Publication date:
April 3, 2020

by Spirituality and Practice



How can we meet God in our everyday lives? In Earth, Our Original Monastery, Christine Valters Paintner, bestselling author and online abbess for Abbey of the Arts, shares how living contemplatively with an appreciation for the natural world can make you more aware of the presence of God in every aspect of your life. She explores monks, mystics, and saints who have experienced the goodness of the Divine in nature and invites you to find solace and spiritual revelation in the wonder of God’s creation.

The purpose of contemplative living, Christine Valters Paintner suggests, is to allow you to integrate the pieces of your life within yourself, in your community, and in the world around you. When you pay attention to each moment, you nurture your ability to see God’s actions in those moments. In Earth, Our Original Monastery, Paintner invites you to begin the journey of contemplative living by focusing on the image of the earth as your original monastery—the place where you learn your most fundamental prayers, participate in each day’s liturgy of praise, and experience the wisdom of the seasons.

Paintner provides seven ways of seeing the earth in light of faith and pairs each one with a practical invitation to a practice. These include:

  • the earth as original cathedral—where you first learn to worship and feel God’s presence around us, paired with the practice of stability
  • the earth as original saints—plants and animals live their calling without trying to be something they’re not and inspire you to do the same, paired with the practice of gratitude
  • the earth as original icon—nature can serve as a window to the holy in the same way that icons do, paired with the practice of lament

As you explore what these connections between the earth and faith mean for how to see God in the world around you, you can also look at saints and mystics who experienced nature and the flow of the divine in similar ways.

Praise for the Book

Practical and insightful, this beautiful book is perfect for any seeker of renewed contemplative styles and practices. It invites you to enter the creative side of your inner monastery and discover faith in fresh and relevant ways.
Br. Mickey McGrath, O.S.F.S.
Artist and storyteller
Earth, Our Original Monastery is both a proclamation of the holiness of nature and a practical guide to meeting God in ordinary and humble ways.
Carl McColman
Author of Befriending Silence
Earth, Our Original Monastery is a unique and fascinating paean to God’s sacred creatures.
Sr. Mary Kathleen Glavich, S.N.D.
Author of Praying on Empty and Heart to Heart with Mary
Earth, Our Original Monastery is a love song—a sacred ecstatic chant in a language we somehow know.
Janet Conner
Janet Conner
Creator of the Praying at the Speed of Love podcast

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