with Christine and John Valters Paintner

A self-study retreat (start any time, move at your own pace, lifetime access)

They can be like a sun, words.
They can do for the heart
what light can
for a field.
-St. John of the Cross, Love Poems from God
(translated by Daniel Ladinsky)


In ancient times, wise men and women fled out into the desert to find a place where they could be fully present to God and to their own inner struggles at work within them.  They sought out radical silence, solitude, and continuous prayer. Many people followed these ammas and abbas, seeking their wisdom and guidance for a meaningful life.   One tradition was to ask for a word – this word or phrase would be something on which to chew, ponder, meditate, and engage with in holy curiosity for many days, weeks, months, or sometimes a whole lifetime.  This practice is one of the roots of lectio divina, where we approach the sacred texts with the same request: "Give me a word" we ask the scriptures – something to nourish me, challenge me, a word I can wrestle with and grow into – something to transform my heart.

Words can illuminate our hearts; they contain seeds of invitation to cross a new threshold.  Words ripen within us.  We can receive a word and not realize its full impact for our lives for a long while until one day we suddenly see things differently.  Lectio divina is an ancient practice of listening deeply to the voice of God shimmering in sacred texts. Lectio cultivates in us the ability to be fully present to the holy call which emerges from words.

Lectio divina is a practice of being present to each moment in a heart-centered way.  We are often taught in churches to think through our prayers – reciting words and formulas which are valuable elements of our shared traditions, but only one window into God’s presence. In lectio we invite God to speak to us in an unmediated way.  Our memories, images, and feelings become an important context for experiencing God’s voice active in us and we discover it when we pray in a heart-centered way. Those words moving through us break open God’s invitation to us in this moment of our lives and calls us to respond in some way.

Are you longing for a transformative journey to deeper intimacy with God through an ancient practice?  Would you like to cultivate a contemplative way of being with scripture and the world? Would you like to have a guide supporting you through regular reflections and guided meditation practices?

Weekly Themes

Week 1: Settling and Shimmering (first movement of lectio divina)

Week 2: Savoring and Stirring (second movement of lectio divina)

Week 3: Summoning and Serving (third movement of lectio divina)

Week 4: Slowing and Stilling (fourth movement of lectio divina)

Week 5: Reading the World as a Sacred Text (part one)

Week 6: Reading the World as a Sacred Text (part two)

What's Included

Six days each week you will receive an email with a link to the day's content. The 7th day is a time for rest and integration. You may move through the material at your own pace. The content is in written and audio formats which you can read and listen to at any time. You have forever access to the materials in the course.


Pay in Full


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

  1. No refunds are provided for online program registrations. 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.
  2. You will have access to all the program materials for the lifetime of this website.
  3. The registration fee is per person; we ask that you honor our work by not sharing the program materials with others who are not enrolled.
  4. All materials presented in our online programs are copyright. Please contact us for permission to quote in settings beyond the program.
  5. Some self-study retreats include video or audio recordings of session that were recorded in a live community offering of the retreat and may make reference to forums or other modes of sharing. Please disregard these as self-study retreats do not have these available.
  6. All fees include VAT where applicable.
  7. If you need a payment plan or a more of a scholarship to make this program accessible, please get in touch with us. Small group discounts are also available.

Your Guides for the Journey

Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Christine is the director of AbbeyoftheArts.com, 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 nine 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 studied education and earned a teaching certificate in his home state of California.  John later went on to earn a Masters in Theological Studies at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley.  After working in parish ministry for several years, John returned to the classroom, teaching high school religion for twelve years. He now works as Prior of the Abbey of the Arts alongside his wife of twenty years, Abbess Christine. Visit the "About John" page for more information.


Praise for the Class

I’m participating in Christine’s online lectio divina course at my home in Britain, 5000 miles away from Christine in Seattle, but each day I feel that she is by my side, gently guiding me. The course is completely exceeding my expectations, the course materials are beautifully produced with love and care, and I recommend Christine’s work unreservedly. –Christopher Stokes, United Kingdom

Christine’s wise, loving and generous spirit spills out in each installment of her lectio divina retreat. Prior to taking it, my spiritual practices were like dry and parched land, and like a deer panting for living Water, she nourishes my thirst for the Holy One. She is a vessel of God’s grace in my life. –Martha Louise

Christine’s course has illuminated the deepest recesses of my soul. While my “inner monk” turned out to be my “inner nun”, she is present with me throughout the day as I am learning to see through her eyes. The readings have been perfect and have led me to reconcile with an old friend. -Chris Flynn

For years I have craved more in my Easter basket than hollow chocolate bunnies and yellow marshmallow Peeps! Christine’s 6 week online retreat is true nourishment; each delicious offering is worthy of slow savoring! -Melissa Layer

I am so very happy the Spirit led me to join Christine’s online retreat. The only way I can explain it is by saying that I find the daily amazement, surprise, joy and gratitude that I encountered when I walked to Santiago de Compostela from Le Puy, France in 2005. Every day offers a discovery and a gift, a new encounter with Godde or Christ.  I do feel accompanied by the Communion of Saints, the cloud of witnesses, and the prayers of many many people I do not know, along with fellow bloggers who seem to be on a similar extraordinary journey.  Frankly, it is a unique experience, which feels very much like a preparation for something else. A death and resurrection, maybe?  -Claire Bangasser, Puerto Rico

Christine whet our appetites prior to Ash Wednesday by offering all of the opportunity to experience the scriptures in a very intimate way. Many tools were offered so that our hearts could be awakened and transformed in stillness, reading, silence and solitude. What I loved most about this course was the daily focus on scripture;, the variety of meditation in art, poetry and audio visual; and the relaxed format as to allow the absorption of spirituality. Well done! -Jo-El McLaughlin

2 Responses

  1. I'm so sad. Everything costs money, money, money and I am without any. I so wanted to join in this but I cannot with the almighty $$$. Very sad. Maybe one day but it won't be today..

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