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Sacred Rhythms of Sky, Sun, Sea & Stone

A Creative Retreat with the Elements

Registration Fee: $150 USD

Program Description

Join us for a 4-week journey into the heart of sky, sun, sea, and stone as wisdom guides for our journey towards holy birthing in our lives.

We will begin each week connecting to a name given to Mary which expresses one of the elements – Mary the Air We Breathe, Mary the Burning Bush, Mary the Living Spring, and Mary the Greenest Branch. Then during the week there will be a variety of creative practices to help you connect more deeply with air, fire, water, and earth as allies and sources of support. Through creative writing practice led by Christine Valters Paintner, nature journaling practice led by Jan Blencowe, movement practice led by Betsey Beckman, and scripture reflections from John Valters Paintner you will be immersed in the questions the elements ask of us.

You will be invited to listen deeply for the ways that air, fire, water, and earth can support you in becoming a feather on the breath of God, in discerning new ways to kindle your passions, in hearing your call to follow the flow, and in becoming deeply rooted and nourished. Each week offers a feast of creative pathways to encounter the richness waiting within you as you move more deeply into the cave of your heart.

*To deepen your experience further you might want to purchase a copy of Christine’s book Water, Wind, Earth, & Fire, however it is not required to participate and all of the materials in this self-study retreat are brand new created for this program so there is no duplication with earlier online programs on the elements.

What's Included

Six days each week you receive an email with a link to the day’s content. The 7th day is a time for rest and integration. The materials are in written, video, and audio format which you can view and listen to at any time. You have lifetime access to the materials in the course.

Day 1: Introduction to the week and theme including an exploration of one of Mary’s titles connected to the element for the week

Day 2: Video recording with Christine Valters Paintner where she will guide you in a writing practice inspired by each week’s theme and element for an hour. (These are recordings of the live sessions during the original community version of the retreat first offered during Advent 2020).

Day 3: Scripture Reflection with John Valters Paintner

Day 4: Nature Journaling Video with Jan Blencowe

Day 5: Song and Movement Video with Betsey Beckman

Day 6: Closing Blessing

Day 7: Sabbath rest and integration

  • Four video recordings of 60-minute writing sessions with Christine Valters Paintner
  • Weekly written reflections from Christine Valters Paintner on the names of Mary connected to the elements
  • Weekly written scripture reflections from John Valters Paintner
  • Weekly nature journaling practice videos with Jan Blencowe
  • Weekly guided movement exploration videos with Betsey Beckman
  • Lifetime access to the materials in our private and easy-to-navigate retreat platform on Ruzuku.

Weekly Themes

Week 1

Sky and the Element of Air

Week 1: Sky and the Element of Air

Sky and air invite us to breathe deeply and fully of life, remind us to become a feather on the breath of God, and listen for the secrets the breezes at dawn are whispering to us as we awaken.

Week 2

Sun and the Element of Fire

Week 2: Sun and the Element of Fire

Sun and fire invite us to kindle the deepest passion of our hearts and connect us to the infinite well of compassion that dwells in each of us. John of the Cross called this the living flame of love that burns within.

Week 3

Sea and the Element of Water

Week 3: Sea and the Element of Water

Sea and water invite us to find the flow of our lives, to ask where we are trying to push the river, and what sacred rhythms are most nourishing for us. The poet Rilke prayed “may what I do flow from me like a river.”
colorful stones

Week 4

Stone and the Element of Earth

Week 4: Stone and the Element of Earth

Stone and earth invite us to remember our rootedness and how we emerged from earth and will one day return there. This practice of remembering our death is a call to claim what is most precious in 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 Valters Paintner, MTS is the online prior for Abbey of the Arts, where he assists his wife Christine in ministering to global community both online and through in-person programs. John was a youth minister and pastoral associate for four years before becoming a high school religion teacher for twelve years. He has a Masters of Theological Studies from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. His love for the Bible, particularly the Hebrew Scriptures, emerged when he taught the “Old Testament” at an all-boys high school. John is also a lover of the art of story-telling and has written dozens of short stories, one-act plays, and short films in a variety of genres.

Betsey Beckman, MM

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, and The Dancing Word series of DVDs on embodied prayer. She offers the gift of playful improvisation whenever possible. Visit Betsey’s website here>>
Jan Blencowe head shot

Jan Blencowe

Jan Blencowe is an artist, creative depth coach, and retreat leader. She helps women use art and nature to heal their past so they can design their future.  She is the creator of the online courses Beginning a Nature Journal and The EarthWise Way, a sacred journey through the Celtic year. Visit Jan’s website here>>

I particularly enjoyed the nature journaling as I’ve always had a hard time getting myself started in drawing and this gave me the boost I needed.
Donna Brunell
The wonderful use of nature throughout this journey has given me new tools, new perspectives, and a sense of space which does not need to be crowded with ever more things on a 'to do' list.
Caroline Moore
This retreat awakened/inspired creativity that was buried in my unconscious. Many synchronicities occurred affirming my path. I am very grateful for all that was learned.
Debra Krummel

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


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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.

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.