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The Wisdom of Wild Grace: Poems

Author: Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE, OBLSB
Paraclete Press
Publication date:
October 13, 2020


At the core of this collection are 30 poems inspired by the stories of kinship between saints and animals. They come mostly from the early Christian desert and Celtic traditions, but also feature later medieval saints like St. Francis of Assisi and St. Julian of Norwich. These stories point to a reverence for a different way of knowing and being in the world, one our world is hungry for. Each poem in this collection is meant to be a doorway to intimacy with our inner wilderness, a call to sit and be present to what we discover beyond the borders of our neatly controlled worlds.

Book cover designed by David Hollington.

Watch the interview with author Christine Valter Paintner for the book launch.

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Praise for the Book

This is a GLORIOUS collection! An inspiring, luscious, deep delve into Earth Wisdom and lively tales of Christian saints; a spirited and intimate re-seeing of the desert mystics and beloved St Francis and Julian of Norwich, offering their transcendent wisdom through beautifully crafted poems. These are lyrical poems of praise and jubilation, of kinship with animals and our inner wild, surprising poems of the ecstatic ordinary…poems to gladden the heart, make spirits soar, and invite the soul to linger long in gentle quiet. Blue herons and ravens, badgers and hedgehogs, saints and possibilities, snowdrops and mystical truths spill gracefully side by side with Wittgenstein, Basho, Selkies and Little Red in these celebratory poems. The magnificent passion and poignant immediacy of Christine Valters Paintner’s poems are a visionary Call to Love and tend our exquisitely generous and threatened natural world. A vast and rich wildness, so like our own wise hearts, lives inside these covers: come in and find sweet Welcome!
Judyth Hill
Poet, author of Dazzling Wobble and A Presence of Angels
In The Wisdom of Wild Grace, Christine Valters Paintner takes us on a pilgrimage to discover the holiness of the natural world. Right from the beginning, “The day opens its white page, /spreading herself like so much possibility,” we can sense the sacredness within. “Praise be the words that spill and splash like a river / across granite,” Paintner writes, and we are filled with admiration for these lines. One long section features stories of Christian saints who had a kinship with animals (herons, ravens, hares, cats, otters); these poems are both charming and whimsical, filled with a sense of divine presence that we have lost in the modern electronic world. In another section, Paintner weaves Irish myths and legends (such as the selkie) and traditional fairy tales like an intricately laced Celtic knot Anyone interested in the intersection of poetry, Celtic mythology, and spirituality will surely love this beautifully written book as much as I did.
Barbara Crooker
Poet, author of The Book of Kells (Cascade Books), winner of the Best Poetry Book 2018 Award from Poetry by the Sea and Some Glad Morning (Pitt Poetry Series)
The poet intends these poems to be invitations, and they are: invitations to know ourselves better by seeing the world more clearly through the eyes of one who loves it fiercely. It is a wonderful, wonder full collection. The reader of these poems will begin with a person, place, or animal but soon discover the external story, so luminously depicted, is one’s own, “inner wilderness,” enlightened by an exceptional turn of phrase and, thus, clarified. The poems suggest that there is, indeed, “just one wild love,/one wild hunger.” The heart of this engaging collection are poems about the Celtic saints (and often their animal friends), but the solace of the book is in finding one’s interior vulnerabilities known, shared, and “the silver ache/of it all” understood.
Bonnie Thurston
Poet, author of O Taste and See and Practicing Silence
Poems come in two types: poems that reflect the poet and poems that transcend the poet. Both can touch you; only the second can transform you. Christine Valters Paintner’s The Wisdom of Wild Grace is the latter. Don’t simply read the words, listen to the message. And dare to be transformed.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro
Poet, author of Accidental Grace: Poems