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A Different Kind of Fast: Lent Retreat 2024 ~ An Online Companion Retreat to the Book

with Christine & John Valters Paintner, Amanda Dillon, and Jamie Marich

Forum facilitators: Amber Andreasen and Polly Paton-Brown

February 14 – March 30, 2024

Live opening session:

Ash Wednesday, Feb 14th ~ with musical guest Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

7-8am Pacific | 10-11am Eastern | 3-4pm Ireland

(Please note: there will not be weekly live sessions)

Program Description

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

-Isaiah 58:6-7 (NRSV)

Fasting is an ancient religious practice of abstaining from food for a limited period of time for greater clarity and focus which can bring a deeper intimacy with the divine. It was an essential dimension of the practice of the desert mothers and fathers as well as many of the mystics throughout the ages. When Jesus went out into the desert for 40 days fasting was part of his practice. This time of retreat is the model for our own Lenten retreat.

There are many different things we can fast from. The ancients advised not just abstaining from food but other things like unnecessary speech or unkindness. During this retreat you will be invited to consider and explore six other fasts:

  • Fast from multitasking and inattention (Embrace full presence to the moment)
  • Fast from anxiety over scarcity (Embrace radical trust in abundance)
  • Fast from speed and rushing (Embrace slowness and pausing)
  • Fast from strength and holding it all together (Embrace tenderness and vulnerability)
  • Fast from planning and deadlines (Embrace unfolding and ripening)
  • Fast from certainty (Embrace mystery and waiting)

These are fasts from certain ways of being in the world which can deplete us and increase our anxiety and suffering. We don’t just abstain from them, but also embrace their antidote which lead us to identify our true hungers. This Lent we will live more fully into a vibrant state of being so that we are resourced to bring our unique creative gifts into the world.

You will need to order a copy of A Different Kind of Fast: Feeding Our True Hungers in Lent in addition to registering for the program. 

Please note: The first printing of the book sold out so Broadleaf is rushing another printing. You may see “out of stock” on several online booksellers. Broadleaf advised me that ordering from Amazon will be the quickest way to get a copy. We will provide you with a PDF of the introduction and first week if needed until your book arrives.

We will turn on closed captioning during the live Zoom session (which you are able to turn off in your settings if you find distracting) as well as provide a video recording with closed captioning available and a text transcript of the session.

The program will be recorded for those who pre-register but are unable to attend at the scheduled time or who want to view again. You will be sent a notification when this is ready to view.

You have lifetime access to all online programs.

Weekly Rhythm of Content

Desert Tall

*The book this retreat companions has daily meditations. Included in this program will be audio versions from Christine each day so you can be led in the practices. In addition, there is some other content to enrich your retreat experience.

Sundays: Lectio Divina audio guidance from Christine + a scripture reflection from John Valters Paintner

Mondays: Breath Prayer audio guidance from Christine 

Tuesdays: Visio Divina audio guidance from Christine + art reflection videos from Amanda Dillon

Wednesdays: Meditation with the Desert Elders audio guidance from Christine

Thursdays: Contemplative Walk audio guidance from Christine + dancing mindfulness videos from Jamie Marich

Fridays: Imaginative Prayer audio guidance from Christine

Saturdays: Creative Ritual audio guidance from Christine + Closing Blessing audio recording

There is also a facilitated discussion forum you can participate in at any time, day or night, to share questions, challenges, and graces from your experience of the retreat. The sacred space will be held by Amber Andreasen and Polly Paton-Brown.

Your Guides for the Journey


Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

Christine is the director of, a virtual monastery exploring contemplative practice, creative expression, and ways to nourish an earth-cherishing consciousness. She is a spiritual director, teacher, pilgrimage guide, and author of numerous books on spirituality and the arts. Her deepest belief is that the earth is the original monastery–a wisdom guide and mentor in living a soulful and vibrant life. Visit the “About Christine” page for more information.


John Valters Paintner, MTS

John Valters Paintner is the online prior for Abbey of the Arts, where he assists his wife Christine in ministering to global community both online and through in-person programs. John was a youth minister and pastoral associate for four years before becoming a high school religion teacher for twelve years. He has a Masters of Theological Studies from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. His love for the Bible, particularly the Hebrew Scriptures, emerged when he taught the “Old Testament” at an all-boys high school. John is also a lover of the art of story-telling and has written dozens of short stories, one-act plays, and short films in a variety of genres.

Amanda Dillon

Amanda Dillon, PhD

Amanda’s research specialisation is Biblical Reception History with a particular focus on the New Testament. Her research interests include: Biblical Reception, Visual Exegesis, Multimodal Analysis, Hermeneutics, Theology and the Visual Arts. Female characters in the New Testament and their afterlives are another significant dimension of her current research and teaching. Amanda has published on the reception of the Bible in: 21st century lectionaries; contemporary Graphic Design; the art of Marc Chagall; Manga Bibles; Urban and Street Art.


Jamie Marich, PhD

Jamie Marich, Ph.D., LPCC-S, REAT, RYT-500, RMT travels internationally speaking on topics related to EMDR therapy, trauma, addiction, expressive arts, LGBTQ issues, spirituality and mindfulness while maintaining a private practice in her home base of Northeast Ohio. Jamie is also the developer of the Dancing Mindfulness expressive arts practice. Jamie is the author of several books including Dancing Mindfulness: A Creative Path to Healing and Transformation (2015, with foreword by Christine Valters Paintner) and Process Not Perfection: Expressive Arts Solutions for Trauma Recovery released in 2019, heavily influenced by the growth she has experienced through her study with Abbey of the Arts! Now primarily a North Atlantic Book author, she has recently released Trauma and the 12 Steps: An Inclusive Guide to Recovery (2020), Transforming Trauma with Jiu-Jitsu (2022), and Dissociation Made Simple: A Stigma-Free Guide to Embracing Your Dissociative Mind and Navigating Life(2023). Visit Jamie’s website here.

Richard OB loose

Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, MA is a Psalmist, spiritual director and freelance musician. He enjoys all manner of projects in theology and the arts. Through his company,, he is publishing imaginative and adventurous songs for the ever-evolving church. Raised in the Midwestern United States, he is a husband to Trish and a dad to Sam. Faves: discovery, music, Star Wars, bosc pears, blue, laughter, naps.

Visit Richard online at and

Forum Facilitators

Amber Andreasen

Amber Andreasen is a contemplative, ever desiring to deepen into and dance the rhythms of monk and artist. She has trained as a spiritual director, receiving her M.A. in Spiritual Formation and Soul Care from The Institute of Spiritual Formation at Talbot School of Theology. Wherever she finds herself, she desires to nurture a compassionate space where others can be listened and loved into fuller being by the Beloved. She is continually awed by the body as sacred storyholder and storyteller, and her heart beats loudly for the weaving together of creativity and spirituality in the discovering of what it means to live an embodied, fully human life in all its mystery and wonder.

Amber Andreasen

Polly Paton-Brown

Polly Paton-Brown MA UKCP worked for many years as a psychotherapist and trainer in the field of trauma. More recently, Polly’s focus has been on helping people explore their spirituality and prayer,  using creativity and connection with nature. Polly has a particular passion for creating healing dolls as a portal to transformation.

Always a lover of nature, horses and creativity Polly now integrates all of these into her practice. She has trained in Nature Based Practice and Eco-pychology, Environmental Arts, Expressive Arts and Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy. She is a licenced facilitator of Chakradance,  The Art of Allowing , Creative Awakenings and the  Wild Soul Woman Programme.

A member of the Iona Community, Polly was coordinator of their healing ministry for 11 years and when in that role ran regular retreats on the Isle of Iona. She is also a Sister of Belle Coeur.  With roots in the contemplative and monastic traditions, Polly also draws wisdom from other spiritual paths such as Druidry and Sufism. She is passionate to help those wounded by the institutional church restore their image of God and themselves. Visit Polly’s website here>>

Polly Bio


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We offer a sliding scale of 3 fees for payment. The reduced fee is for those who need financial assistance and the sponsorship fee helps support our ability to offer scholarships. In an effort to keep this program accessible, please carefully consider both your own resources as well as honoring the expense, time, and energy required to run these programs and keep our work sustainable. Thank you!

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The book is not included in the registration fee. You may purchase the book at the links below or at your local book seller. Thank you for your support!

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Please consider your purchase carefully and review the many free materials we have on our website to make sure the program will be a good fit or get in touch with any questions.

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