with Christine Valters Paintner, PhD
March 10-14, 2019| 4 nights | limited to 14 participants - FULL (waiting list available)
We will be staying at St. Andrew’s House, an Episcopal retreat center on the beautiful Hood Canal which is a fjord that is part of the Salish Sea. From the retreat center you have views across the water toward the Olympic mountains. We have the retreat house all to ourselves and limit our numbers to create an intimate community of fellow monks and writers. Cedars and herons will be our companions and inspiration.
The monks of the Celtic tradition sought out wild places to have a radical encounter with the divine. They were known for their creative outpouring, the countless hours spent illuminating manuscripts so that sacred texts would be preserved, while ornamenting them to reflect their beauty. The spirituality of this tradition also nourishes our own creative hearts, calling us to threshold places within where the written word comes alive. Writing can take us to our own wild edges – where we claim space to dive into our creative hearts and encounter the call to bring forth beauty into the world.
On this retreat there will be time for writing, gentle movement, wandering, pondering, being and an emphasis on generating new writing.
In the morning writing sessions we draw on various themes from Celtic monastic spirituality to inspire us. We will explore uncensored writing to break open the connection to our intuitive and wild selves, we discover new dreams and longings which have been carefully submerged. We explore the joy of the process of writing itself as a journey of discovery. Through structured poetry exercises, we begin to give shape to these visions and longings, responding to the call of sparseness which poetry demands. When we write poems we have to write the essence of things and so also discover what is essential to us. We will have the opportunity to read aloud our work with partners and in small groups (always optional). We will be invited into some gentle movement practices to get the creative energy flowing and write from a more embodied place.
We will be entering this time as pilgrims who take a journey out to the wild edges to shake loose our expectations and assumptions, so we might see the world with more freshness, we might peer beneath the dull surface of the ordinary to discover a new aliveness and the sacred in all things. We will approach writing as a spiritual practice.
Open to writers of any genre or level of experience. Writing exercises are meant to be generative of new ideas and visions and explore what it means for you to write. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “writer” but the description above stirs a longing in you, know that you are welcome to join us. We have had writers of all levels join us, including no experience at all, and the door is open to anyone whose heart comes alive at the sound of this retreat. We will also be engaging in some gentle movement experiences and all bodies are welcome, you are encouraged to adjust the movements to your own bodies' needs.
Sunday, March 10th
Arrive to St. Andrew's House on the Hood Canal between 4-6 pm. If you are flying into Sea-Tac airport you can choose to take the airport shuttle departing the airport at 2:30 and arriving about 4:00 p.m. to the retreat center (see details below).
We will begin with dinner from 6-7 and an evening orientation and welcome from 7-9
Monday, March 11th - Tuesday, March 12th - Wednesday, March 13th
Our retreat rhythm each day is as follows:
- 8:30-9:30 Breakfast available
- 9:30-12:00 Morning Session
- 12-1 Lunch available
- 1-4 Afternoon break (time for your own writing projects, wandering, resting)
- 4-6 Afternoon Session
- 6-7 Dinner
**On Wednesday, our last evening, we will have an additional time to gather after dinner from 7-9
Thursday, March 14th
- 8:30-9:30 Breakfast
- 9:30-12 Closing Session and Ritual
- 12-1 Lunch and departures (shuttle back to the airport)
*This retreat provides 20 hours of continuing education. We can provide you with a letter stating the number of hours successfully completed which you can then submit to your governing body for CEU credit.
Praise from Previous Participants
Christine & John, no words can get close enough to the gratitude I want to express for all your gifts. The gift of your bravery of your journey to Ireland, of following your path that you knew not where it was taking you, and the gift of creating the beautiful spaces where you gather us, in the beauty of landscape, poetry, and the spirit of life truly lived. Wow! You are amazing!! We are so very lucky to have you!
Thank you all for your beautiful company and conversations, for your laughter and kindness, and for sharing with me your beautiful thoughts, that made music of your voice as it spilled out into words on pages. It is funny being back in what we call 'normal' life. What do we do with the wondrous experience we have had, and now knowing that there is inside each of us a voice that is the one that we would all like to hear more of, most particularly ourselves?! —Christine Adams
A friend asked me if the experience had met my expectations. My response—everything exceeded them! From experiencing Illuminating the Way, I knew Christine was going to be an inspirational leader, but I could not anticipate how powerful her writing prompts would be and how effectively she would integrate music, movement, and writing into our experiences. Her encouraging smile and joyful laugh encouraged participation. John, you and Christine make such a fantastic team. It was beyond my imagination to conceive of the group that would assemble to share this experience. I was inspired by all of you; your writing and reflection touched a depth in me that’s difficult to express. The groups acceptance of each member was beautiful. —Lucy Wilson
I loved the retreat, loved everything about it. Thank you so much for your vision and the community you created. I met many kindred spirits and I feel I have many new friends. —Mia Rosenfeld
I wouldn’t change a thing on this pilgrimage. You and John have put together a wonderful, challenging, spiritually fulfilling package. I will recommend it to others and hopefully be joining y’all on future pilgrimages! —Randy Pierce
The content, your topics, questions and readings all facilitated the container necessary for the transformative work of the Spirit. The rhythm of writing, movement and venturing into the sacred landscape met me in the tender points ready for growth. Both the writing sessions and movement stretched my intuitive self, as I knew it would. We answer the call to journey, leaving the known into a season where we lose sure footing, the door swings wide open for transformation. We loved all three pilgrim guides. Thanks for your investment of time and soul in both the preparation and leading of this pilgrimage. I pray you and John will be blessed a hundredfold in return. —Rev. Don and Charlotte Ferris, Directors, Eagle's Wings Ministries
Thanks for your generosity and your spirit, the retreat was just what I needed to move into retirement. I completed a number of drafts of new poems, so I feel the writing portion was very well-done. I especially enjoyed the questions you put forward as prompts and using poems to respond to with more writing. I loved the trip! —Nita Penfold
Thank you for a well-organized program. You led us in very thoughtful exercises. I loved all the poems you chose, and the forms you had us write in. And what wonderful guides you brought us--Dara, Pius, Deirdre and Michael. They were all remarkable for their knowledge of their subjects, and their gift for engaging us in their stories and music. All the places we stayed were delightful. I loved the Galley, monastic benches notwithstanding. Caroline's warmth and great cooking more than compensated. Irish food everywhere was so much better than I remembered from so long ago. —Eileen Harakal
Our time on the islands continues to spiral out in me. The spaciousness of pilgrimage infused the week's walking and writing. My hiking heart was happy. My writing soul was engaged. This pilgrimage time is by no means over for me. I am very grateful for these island days. —Martha Brunell
Our pilgrimage was organized so well that we could surrender any worries about details and simply live the journey! And what a journey it was! I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of it. I appreciated the balance of more sedentary writing sessions with the active hikes. I loved the prowess with which you wove the story of St. Brendan throughout our writing sessions. It was wonderful to experience creative writing as a place of self-discovery, with parallels with some of the visual arts that I've loved. The exposure to several Celtic poets was inspiring and contributed to whole cultural/spiritual experience. Music is a powerful medium for me as well. I fully enjoyed all of the chants that you taught us and found myself still singing them long after the sessions were done. —Janet Scott
The rhythm of the morning writing session, afternoon personal time and late afternoon writing/hiking/music was a gift. The collaboration with locals such as Pius, Dara, Michael and Deirdre was a particular blessing of the retreat. The combination of you and John as leaders, augmented by the knowledge and experience of local people, was extremely enriching. Thank you again so much for a wonderful week. It was such a blessing for me, and hopefully for those with whom I live and minister to. —Anne Wicks
Writing takes two kinds of effort: there is the creative flow of ideas and there is the careful editing for clarity, spelling, grammar, etc. The type of exercises that Christine led us in during the Writing at the Wild Edges Retreat, encouraged the creative flow. We had a couple of rules about this sharing. One was – “No disclaimers.” This meant that you couldn’t start by saying something like “I really don’t like this, but ….” Despite this rule, one person started his sharing with the statement “I’m not really a writer, but …” Of course, he went on to read something absolutely wonderful that he had written. Christine then asked him, “Did you write that?” When he responded in the affirmative she simply said, “Then you are a writer.” It’s because of this type of affirmation that I really enjoyed the writing exercises. They not only helped me get my creative energies flowing, but they also helped me claim my identity as a writer. —Carol Everson
I had a great time and would do it again in a heartbeat. You have given me a desire and passion for Ireland in all that you showed and presented. —Nina Dykstra
Choose with Discernment
We want your retreat experience to be soulfully enriching, stretching and challenging in the best ways, radically hospitable, inspiring, and wildly supportive of where you are. If you're not sure if this program is right for you or your fit with Abbey of the Arts please be sure to review everything here carefully, read more about the Abbey, about Christine, about the Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks, read one of Christine's books, and if you feel a YES rising up within we eagerly welcome you to join us!
If you still have questions please get in touch by email.
priced per person; shared bathroom
priced per person; shared bathroom
FULL (Waiting List Available)
Balance of Payment Due Date:
- December 10, 2018 is the due date for the final payment (balance is $1250 for a single and $1000 for a double). We will send you a reminder prior to this.
- There are no refunds after the final payment is due. Please consider purchasing travel insurance to protect against emergency situations.
Steps to Register
- Please read through this entire page including Policies and FAQs (above) and contact Christine with any questions or concerns.
- Fill out the Writing Retreat Registration Form and pay your deposit.
- We highly recommend that you purchase travel insurance to include trip cancellation (“cancel for any reason” highly recommended) as the deposit and final payment are nonrefundable.
Policies and FAQs
Where is the retreat center and how do I get there?
St. Andrew’s House is an Episcopal Retreat Center in Union, WA, United States on the Hood Canal. It is an hour and 45 minutes from downtown Seattle, one and a half hours from the SeaTac airport, and 40 minutes from Olympia. If you are flying in, please allow two hours in each direction to get to and from the retreat center. We will connect you with others who are flying in to share an airport shuttle (approx cost is $50 each way/ $100 round trip – based on total number of riders). The shuttle is far less expensive with several riding together so we schedule it to depart the airport at about 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 10, 2018 – please schedule your flight to arrive by 2:00 so you can pick up any luggage before the shuttle leaves. On Thursday, March 14, 2018 the shuttle will leave the retreat center at 1:00 and arrive at the airport by 3:00 p.m. so schedule your return flight accordingly. It is quite expensive to book the shuttle on your own which is why we offer this option to share the cost.
You can find driving directions here.
What are the accommodations like?
St. Andrew's Retreat House (Pacific NW) is a lodge-style building with several comfortable bedrooms upstairs with shared bathrooms. Sheets, blankets, and towels are provided as well as wireless access.
At each retreat center we are the only group present so we have extra privacy for our work.
What is the refund policy?
Please note that your retreat deposit of $400 to hold your space is nonrefundable. Your final payment is due December 10, 2018 and after that time is also nonrefundable. We highly recommend taking out some sort of travel insurance policy to cover your losses in case of illness or other emergency.
If we need to cancel the retreat for any reason ourselves then your payments will be refunded in full.
Your Guide for the Journey
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD is the online Abbess for AbbeyoftheArts.com, a virtual monastery and global ecumenical community integrating contemplative practice and creative expression. She is a poet and the author of eleven books on spirituality including her most recent The Soul's Slow Ripening: 12 Celtic Practices for Seeking the Sacred (Ave Maria Press). Her first collection of poems, Dreaming of Stones, will be published by Paraclete Press in spring 2019. She lives on the wild west coast of Ireland with her husband John and together they lead pilgrimages and retreats in Ireland, Scotland, Germany, and Austria.