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

Monk in the World

Registration Fee: $125 USD

Program Description

You are invited to create a retreat in daily life that supports your desire to live a compassionate, contemplative, and creative life.

The word monk comes from the Greek monachos meaning single or solitary. A monk in the world does not live apart but is immersed in the everyday with a single-hearted and undivided presence, always striving for greater wholeness and integrity.

The Monk in the World self-study retreat guides you through an 8-week exploration of the principles of the Monk Manifesto that are the cornerstone of our community:

Silence and Solitude, Hospitality, Kinship with Creation, Community, Work, Sabbath, Conversion, and Creative Joy.

You have lifetime access to the materials and may move through the journey at your own pace.

All payments for this program go to support our scholarships to keep the Abbey financially accessible, as well as the creation of our Prayer Cycles, and our Lift Every Voice Book Club. 

Are you a Monk in the World?

Are you a writer or artist?

Do you long to nourish an earth-cherishing consciousness?

What's Included

  • 8 written and audio reflections from Christine introducing the theme for the week
  • 8 written scripture reflections from John
  • 8 guided meditations from Christine in written and audio format
  • 8 video practices from members of our Wisdom Council
  • 8 dance prayers from Betsey Beckman
  • 8 weekly reflection questions and closing blessings
  • Ongoing access to the materials in our private and easy-to-navigate retreat platform on Ruzuku

Each week you will receive a daily email with a link to our learning portal where you will find that day’s content.

Day 1: Reflection from Christine Valters Paintner

Day 2: Scripture reflection from John Valters Paintner

Day 3: Guided Meditation from Christine Valters Paintner

Day 4: Practice from Wisdom Council member

Day 5: Dance Prayer with Betsey Beckman

Day 6: Reflection Questions & Closing Blessing

Day 7: Sabbath (link to Monk in the World prayer cycle)

Weekly Themes

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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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

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

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.

m_John headshot 2

John Valters Paintner, MTS

John Valters Paintner 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.

Betsey Beckman Headshot

Betsey Beckman

Betsey Beckman, MM is nationally acclaimed as a spirited dancer, storyteller, teacher of SpiritPlay and dancing Spiritual Director. With her extensive repertory of sacred storydances, she is regularly featured as artist/presenter at national conventions as well as local churches. She earned her Masters in Ministry degree from Seattle University, her certificate in Movement Therapy from the Institute for Transformational Movement, and is a certified InterPlay leader. As dancer, choreographer, author, mother, wife, teacher and spiritual director, she is passionate about living life fully and fostering creativity in all those with whom she shares life and ministry. Betsey’s publications include books (she is co-author of Awakening the Creative Spirit: Bringing the Expressive Arts to Spiritual Direction), recordings – including producing the Abbey of the Arts CD collections, and The Dancing Word series of DVDs on embodied prayer, many of which companion the Abbey CDs. She offers the gift of playful improvisation whenever possible. Visit Betsey’s website here>>

Guest Teachers

Carmen Acevedo Butche, PhD ~ Silence and Solitude

Carmen Acevedo Butcher is an award-winning translator, poet, and workshop leader. She has been interviewed on the BBC’s Compass, NPR’s Morning Edition, and Dante’s Old South, and many others found on her linktree. Her Cloud of Unknowing translation received a 46th Georgia Author of the Year Award, and Martin Laird calls her translation of Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence “the new standard.” Carmen holds degrees in Medieval Studies from the University of Georgia, was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of London, and teaches in the College Writing Programs at the University of California, Berkeley. She is an Affiliate Faculty member at the Center for Action and Contemplation and has contributed teaching to the CAC’s Essentials of Engaged Contemplation course. Carmen lives in the Bay Area, and is working on a chapbook of poetry. Visit Carmen’s website here and her YouTube channel here.


Jamie Marich ~ Hospitality

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.


Aisling Richmond ~ Community

Aisling Richmond is a Somatic Therapist and transformative guide who is deeply inspired by nature and the wisdom of the soul. Aisling is currently undertaking a PhD in Psychology and Transformative Leadership to work with cultural change. She shares a home with her partner in the rugged wildness of Donegal, North West Ireland. Aisling works as a therapist, supporting people to resolve trauma and life challenges through body-psyche-soul wisdom. She also mentors people in finding their deep soul purpose, and teaches a rich range of transformative programs online.  Aisling is passionate about soul centred living, where nature and the feminine are deeply valued. Having worked collaboratively with many organisations including Amnesty International, Aisling has also been a guest lecturer with both Galway and Limerick Universities. Visit Aisling’s website here>>


Jo-ed Tome ~ Kinship with Creation

Jo-ed Tome is a Filipino spiritual director, transpersonal psychology researcher, and self-proclaimed monk in the world. He practices and promotes contemplative living through his social media platform, Millennial Tito* Monk. Jo-ed encourages others, especially the youth, to a mindful and compassionate exploration of various spiritual practices that respond to their unique contexts. He strongly believes that the Sacred is within each person as much as It is everywhere and in everything.
Among other practices, Jo-ed leads contemplative climb in mountains, soulful reading of books and other reading materials, and soulful conversations. He also gives retreats and recollections to various groups to help them grapple with questions about life, become witnesses to the dynamic presence of the Sacred in their lives, and connect deeply with their inner selves.
Jo-ed earned his MSc in Consciousness, Spirituality and Transpersonal Psychology from Alef Trust in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University. He has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Ateneo de Naga University.

Dena Jennings ~ Work

Dena Jennings, D.O. is a luthier, musician, writer, Virginia Master Naturalist, and an Internal Medicine physician with certification in Ayurvedic practice. In addition to over 30 years of  medical practice, she completed a 4-year apprenticeship with a sculptor and luthier in Ontario, Canada where she learned to design and built the gourd instruments of cultures around the world. In 2013 Dr. Jennings married her best friend Donald Jennings and moved to their organic herb farm and wildlife preserve in Nasons, VA which they lovingly call the Farmashramonastery. There, she practices medicine and counselling, hosts contemplative retreats, hikes, and meditation, and raises angora rabbits. 

In the larger community, she conducts conflict transformation workshops including one for artistic ambassadors through the US State Department in Washington, DC. She has developed accredited curricula of meditation for racial justice, and for cultural sensitivity in artistic performance. In 2019, she was appointed to the Virginia Commission for the Arts where she serves as the chairperson.

Since 1996, Dr. Jennings has been the Executive Director and founder of Imani Works, a human rights advocacy group that enjoys consultative status with the United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs. Through Imani Works, she provides evaluations for asylum seekers. You can reach her for bookings, consultations, and counselling by visiting ImaniWorks online.

Dena Ross Jennings

Melinda Thomas ~ Sabbath

Melinda Thomas, E-RYT 500 is the Program Coordinator for Abbey of the Arts providing program and logistical support, forum facilitation, and yoga. She also offer prayers and other content contributions to the Prayer Cycles and retreats. Melinda is an experienced yoga teacher and has been studying and practicing yoga for more than twenty-five years. In each of her classes and workshops Melinda weaves spiritual and contemplative themes into accessible, alignment based movement practice. Her aim is to honor the spiritual foundation of yoga in conversation with monastic and contemplative wisdom that offers participants a safe, inclusive, and integrated experience. Melinda is a writer and the author of Sacred Balance: Aligning Body and Spirit Through Yoga and the Benedictine Way. She lives in North Carolina with her son whose room is often littered with LEGOs and who still wants to cuddle. Visit her website >>



Richard Bruxvoort Colligan ~ Conversion

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.

Richard OB loose

Claudia Love Mair ~ Creative Joy

Claudia Love Mair, MFA is a writer, artist, and Ringmistress of the Beautiful Soul Circus, a private Facebook group for creatives, queers, and tender souls. She’s an Inspirationalista who, when she’s not creating something herself, helps other creatives tap into their deepest intuition and longings through writing and painting. Claudia is the author of the God Alone is Enough, the critically acclaimed novel, Zora and Nicky, and her memoir, Don’t You Fall Now. She is a Certified Intuitive Painting and Expressive Arts Facilitator and the Coordinator for the Kentucky Black Writers Collaborative. Claudia lives in Lexington, with two of her adult children, and three cats, including one who thinks he’s a dog.

Claudia Love Mair (1)

Praise for the Course

It's Easter Monday and I am sad to see the end of this Creative Flourishing retreat, but oh so grateful for the multi-layered experience. I made the decision to take this journey at the last minute, but with great conviction it would deepen my Christian life. I had no idea what it would be like. It was like nothing I have experienced before. Thank you to Christine for originating the idea and doing such a thoughtful and tender job of guiding us through this journey. My deepest joy was to reconnect with the artist within me. The art literally flowed from me. Like living water. A well-spring fed by Christ himself.
Laurie Wagner
I'll be stepping into the season of Easter and spring with more ease, joy and awake from having prayed with, reflected on, moved with and daily witnessing of the mandalas during the past five and one half weeks. Thank you Christine for your vision, knowledge, design and guidance throughout this Lenten season; Hildegard of Bingen is now a living Saint for me. Betsey, i've become more embodied, through participating in your interpretations of Hildegard in dance and chant. This spiritual community has filled my heart with divine blessings. I will pass these blessings on.
Beatrice Randall
I'm so grateful for this retreat. It has been the most amazing experience of learning and growth, spiritually, artistically, and emotionally. Most of which I was not expecting when I signed up. Christine, I want to thank you again for this amazing Lent retreat. It was a joy, honor and privilege to attend. This has been an experience I won't soon forget. I've learned so much about myself and this process of healing through artistic expression. I look forward to doing more with you
Tamara Mapp
Thank you, Christine, for the best retreat I've ever experienced. I'm hooked on Hildegard! She will ever be part of my spirituality as she has added both depth and richness to my faith.
Evelyn Jackson
Sincere and grateful thanks for this marvelous retreat. Your guidance and song will live in my heart. Hildegard's presence has been a source of light and love. Your ministry is much appreciated. We are greener!
Mary Mason
This has been a very rich retreat. I have loved creating, singing, breathing, moving, reading and praying with you. Thank you.
Judith Bryan
My heart is so full. This has been the best retreat in my life.
Louise Thigpen


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

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!

Please be careful to enter your correct email address when you register. 
All payments for this program go to support our scholarships to keep the Abbey financially accessible, as well as the creation of our Prayer Cycles, and our Lift Every Voice Book Club.
All prices displayed in USD.


Regular Fee


Sponsorship Fee


Reduced Fee

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.