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Lectio Divina: The Sacred Art of Reading the World

A companion retreat to the book

Registration Fee: $120 USD

Program Description

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?

They can be like a sun, words. They can do for the heart what light can for a field.

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.

Day 1: Introduction to the week from Christine Valters Paintner (text)

Day 2: Scripture reflection from John Valters Paintner (text)

Day 3: Recording of a webinar session with Christine Valters Paintner (audio)

Day 4: Recording of meditation with Christine Valters Paintner (audio)

Day 5: Invitation to write a poem (text)

Day 6: A poem to close the week (text)

Day 7: Sabbath 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.

  • 6 weekly audio recordings of previously recorded live sessions** from Christine Valters Paintner on the practice of lectio divina
  • 6 weekly written reflections from John Valters Paintner on gospel passages
  • 6 audio recordings of guided meditations
  • A poem to close out each week.
  • Suggestions for weekly reading from Lectio Divina: The Sacred Art–Transforming Words and Images into Heart-Centered Prayer (book not included, must be purchased separately)

**The recordings of the live session were offered in a previous community offering of the retreat. Please disregard references to the season of Lent and to sharing in the forum as this is the self-study version of the program.

Weekly Themes

The Gates We Enter, The Thresholds We Cross

All stories have gates that the reader enters alongside the protagonist. The gate leads to a threshold that once crossed, initiates a series of challenges and invitations for the protagonist and for us. We find the Selkie within us.

Week 1: Settling and Shimmering

(first movement of lectio divina)

Week 1: Settling and Shimmering

In the first movement we listen for what shimmers in the text, trusting this as God’s voice. Lectio divina calls us to awaken to the divine presence.

Week 2: Savoring and Stirring

(second movement of lectio divina)

Week 2: Savoring and Stirring

In the second movement we welcome all of our senses and let the prayer unfold through image, feeling, and memory. Lectio divina calls us to savor life fully.

Week 3: Summoning and Serving

(third movement of lectio divina)

Week 3: Summoning and Serving

In the third movement we listen deeply for the call of the Spirit through all that has unfolded in our prayer already. Through lectio divina we are summoned to a new awareness.

Week 4: Slowing and Stilling

(fourth movement of lectio divina)

Week 4: Slowing and Stilling

In the fourth movement we release all the words and images and rest fully into being rather than doing. Lectio divina always leads us to this embrace of stillness and dwelling with the divine.

Week 5: Reading the World as a Sacred Text

(part one)

Week 5: Reading the World as a Sacred Text (part 1)

After learning to pray lectio divina with sacred texts, we begin to expand this new way of seeing into the whole of the world. We can apply this practice to praying with images and music.

Week 6: Reading the World as a Sacred Text

(part two)

Week 6: Reading the World as a Sacred Text (part 2)

We continue to expand our way of seeing the sacred in the world and apply this practice to nature and to the sacred stories of our lives.

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 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 headshot 2

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 Course

I’m participating in Christine’s online lectio divina course at my home in Britain, 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
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


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All prices displayed in USD.


Registration Fee

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

Purchase the Companion Book

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!

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

Some self-study retreats include video or audio recordings of sessions 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.

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.