Visit the Abbey of the Arts online retreat platform to access your programs:

Monk in the World Small Group Experience

Facilitated by Melissa Layer, Simon de Voil, Lisa Bozarth Ozaeta, Amber Andreasen, or Therese Taylor-Stinson

October 4-November 27, 2021

Please email us to be added to the waiting list

Program Description

Join us for an 8-week journey through the principles of the Monk Manifesto by committing to a small group experience. Deepen into your desire to be a dancing monk in the world. We welcome those who have been on this path a long time as well as those newly exploring it. Together we will learn from one another’s wisdom.

Gatherings are weekly hour-long sessions on Zoom. Limit of 8 participants per group. Groups are facilitated by Melissa Layer, Simon de Voil, Lisa Bozarth Ozaeta, Amber Andreasen, and Therese Taylor-Stinson. More groups may be added if there is demand.

Small groups are a beautiful and powerful way to explore our own commitments to a contemplative and creative way of life. They are not space for advice-giving or fixing one another, instead participants come together to create a holy space of witnessing each other into new possibilities. When we share in this setting we both come to greater clarity for ourselves and what we say touches the hearts of others. The same happens when we listen to the stories others share. We wrestle with the messiness of life together and celebrate the moments of beauty.

You will also receive the Monk in the World online retreat content 6 days out of 7 to stimulate reflection and integration into your daily life. The retreat content includes written reflections on the theme from Christine Valters Paintner, audio recordings of guided meditations, scripture reflections from John Valters Paintner, songs with accompanying dance videos, suggested practices, and beautiful videos with closing blessings. Instead of sharing in the forum however, like our other community retreats, you will share in the small group Zoom session.

You are making a commitment to the other participants in the group as well as to yourself, so please make every effort to be present for each session. They will not be recorded to protect the privacy of the participants and the intimate nature of small group sharing.

Weekly Themes

Week 1: Silence and Solitude

I commit to finding moments each day for silence and solitude, to make space for another voice to be heard, and to resist a culture of noise and constant stimulation.

Week 2: Hospitality

I commit to radical acts of hospitality by welcoming the stranger both without and within. I recognize that when I make space inside my heart for the unclaimed parts of myself, I cultivate compassion and the ability to accept those places in others.

Week 3: Community

I commit to cultivating community by finding kindred spirits along the path, soul friends with whom I can share my deepest longings, and mentors who can offer guidance and wisdom for the journey.

Week 4: Kinship with Creation

I commit to cultivating awareness of my kinship with creation and a healthy asceticism by discerning my use of energy and things, letting go of what does not help nature to flourish.

Week 5: Work

I commit to bringing myself fully present to the work I do, whether paid or unpaid, holding a heart of gratitude for the ability to express my gifts in the world in meaningful ways.

Week 6: Sabbath

I commit to rhythms of rest and renewal through the regular practice of Sabbath and resist a culture of busyness that measures my worth by what I do.

Week 7: Conversion

I commit to a lifetime of ongoing conversion and transformation, recognizing that I am always on a journey with both gifts and limitations.

Week 8: Creative Joy

I commit to being a dancing monk, cultivating creative joy and letting my body and “heart overflow with the inexpressible delights of love.”

Your Guides for the Journey

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.


Melissa Layer

Melissa Layer, MA honors our unfolding journeys through life’s challenges and transitions as compelling invitations for creative, integrative meaning-making in BodyMindSpirit.  Her sacred calling and training as a psychospiritual therapist, hospice grief counselor and interfaith spiritual director have taught her about the potency of the “thin places” in thresholds and dark nights of the soul.  Often utilizing expressive arts for curious exploration of the Great Mystery, Melissa offers her compassionate presence and deep listening to individuals and groups.  Like the honeybee for which she is named, she claims her role as “a bee of the invisible… passionately plundering the honey of the visible in order to gather it in the great golden hive of the invisible” (Rilke).  The evergreen forests of Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest are her sacred sanctuary.

Visit Melissa’s website here>>

Lisa Bozarth Ozaeta

Lisa Bozarth Ozaeta

Lisa Bozarth Ozaeta serves as the Abbey’s seminary intern over the next two years (2021-2023). She lives outside of Seattle with her wife and four kids. Lisa teaches in the Healthcare Master of Administration program at the University of Southern California and is a seminary student at Bexley Seabury Seminary.


Therese Taylor-Stinson

Therese Taylor-Stinson

Therese Taylor-Stinson is an ordained deacon and ruling elder in the PCUSA, who last served as Liaison for Race and Reconciliation on National Capital Presbytery’s Mission Coordinating Committee. A practicing spiritual director for more than 15 years, Therese is a graduate of the Shalem Institute and a member of the Shalem Society for Contemplative Leadership. Therese is also the Founding Managing Member of the Spiritual Directors of Color (SDC) Network, Ltd. and the author and editor of three books on spiritual direction.

Simon de Voil playing guitar

Simon de Voil

Reverend Simon Ruth de Voil is an interfaith-interspiritual minister, sacred musician, spiritual counsellor, and chaplain.

His sacred work—both musical and interpersonal—explores themes of the inner landscape of the soul, the enchantment of the natural world, and the healing power of spiritual practice. As a chaplain and counsellor, Simon helps individuals and groups connect sacred presence with everyday life. Simon is also a transgender activist and a luthier in training.

Visit Simon’s website here>>


Your registration constitutes an agreement with our online program Terms and Conditions below. 

All prices displayed in USD.

Full Groups


Lisa's Group (FULL)


Therese's Group (FULL)


Melissa's Group (FULL)


Melissa's Group (FULL)


Amber's Group (FULL)


Simon's Group (FULL)


Simon's Group (FULL)

If you need a payment plan or a scholarship to make this program accessible, please get in touch with us.

Terms and Conditions

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.

We ask that you honor our work by not sharing the program materials with others who are not enrolled.

Please contact us for permission to quote in settings beyond the program

These videos are made available to registered participants and may also be included in future versions of the program including self-study. If you choose to speak during a recorded gathering, you are giving us your consent to record that contribution. If you prefer not to be seen or heard, you can of course switch off or mute your camera or microphone at any time. Chat sessions are recorded and posted as well. Participation in the chat function is also giving consent to their recording. Breakout groups are never recorded.

If you choose a payment plan and stop payment before fulfilling the commitment without contacting us to make other arrangements, your access to the program will be removed.