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The Soul’s Slow Ripening

12 Celtic Practices for Seekers of the Sacred

Registration Fee: $160 USD

Program Description

This 12-week self-study retreat is a companion to Christine’s book The Soul’s Slow Ripening: 12 Celtic Practices for Seeking the Sacred. Journey together inviting you to explore the gifts of Celtic Christian spirituality, practices unique to this ancient tradition, inspiring stories of Irish saints, scripture reflections, plus creative invitations into writing and photography.

What does God desire for your life?

Christine Valters Paintner uses reflections, stories, guided activities, prayer experiences, and a variety of creative arts to help you patiently and attentively listen to God’s invitation.

Everyone wants to understand God’s call in their lives. Christine shares one of the most ancient paths to understanding from her study of monasticism and immersion into Celtic spirituality while living in Ireland. The Celtic way, which Paintner distills into twelve practices, offers discernment that focuses on the intuition and embodiment rather than the intellectual focus present in other forms of discernment. It allows for what Christine calls the “soul’s slow ripening,” coming into the fullness of our own sweetness before we pluck the fruit.

Each chapter begins with a story of a particular Irish saint—some well-known like Patrick or Brigid, others less so, such as Ita and Ciaran—and then introduces a helpful practice for discernment that the saint’s life illustrates. Paintner explores the call of dreams, the importance of thresholds, the practice of peregrination (wandering for the love of God), walking the rounds, learning by heart, soul friends, blessing each moment, and the wisdom of the landscape and the seasons. Participants are invited to explore these concepts through photography and writing. She invites us to contemplative walks with specific themes along with poetic writing prompts for expression.

As you explore an alternate way of discerning a spiritual path—one which honors the moment-by-moment invitations and the soul’s seasonal rhythms—you will discover that this book and retreat experience will help you become more aligned with creativity and wholeness.

Also included are 12 vibrant songs commissioned for each saint and practice along with gesture prayers taught by liturgical dancer and movement therapist Betsey Beckman, MM to bring the whole body into our prayer in an open and accessible way.

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 added materials (in addition to the book) are in audio and video format which you can listen to at any time. All audio recordings were created by Christine Valters Paintner. You have lifetime access to the materials in the course.

Monday: Guided audio meditation recording

Tuesday: Guided audio lectio divina recording

Wednesday: Photography Exploration (with extra audio guidance)

Thursday: Writing Exploration (with extra audio guidance)

Friday: Song and Movement Prayer with Betsey Beckman (with teaching and dance along videos)

Saturday: Closing Blessing (with audio reading of poem)

Sunday: Sabbath rest

  • 12 audio recordings of a guided meditation led by Christine Valters Paintner
  • 12 audio recordings of a guided lectio divina practice with the week’s scripture passage
  • 12 audio recordings of guidance for the photography explorations
  • 12 audio recordings of guidance for the writing explorations
  • 12 teaching videos and 12 dance along videos with Betsey Beckman offering a gesture prayer
  • 12 audio recordings of Christine reading her closing poem

Weekly Themes

Week 1

The Practice of Thresholds

Week 1: The Practice of Thresholds

In the Celtic imagination thresholds are places and moments in time when the veil between heaven and earth is especially thin. You are invited to consider what thresholds you are standing on in your own life.

Week 2

The Practice of Dreaming

Week 2: The Practice of Dreaming

Dreams were considered to be a source of great wisdom and guidance on life’s path. You are encouraged to listen to your dreams and work with their symbols.

Week 3

The Practice of Peregrinatio and Seeking Your Place of Resurrection

Week 3: The Practice of Peregrinatio and Seeking Your Place of Resurrection

Peregrinatio was a uniquely Irish form of pilgrimage which involved stepping into a boat and letting the current of wind and water carry you to the place of your resurrection.

Week 4

The Practice of Blessing Each Moment

Week 4: The Practice of Blessing Each Moment

The Celtic tradition had blessings for each action of the day, from awakening to sleeping, from departing on a journey to baking bread. When we bless each moment we hold a heart of gratitude.

Week 5

The Practice of Soul Friendship

Week 5: The Practice of Soul Friendship

The Celtic saints considered having a soul friend to be an essential aspect of the spiritual life. You are invited to contemplate who in your own life could offer that kind of wisdom and guidance.

Week 6

The Practice of Encircling

Week 6: The Practice of Encircling

St. Patrick’s breastplate prayer is a prayer of encircling, of asking for protection in every direction and acknowledging the holy presence within and without.

Week 7

The Practice of Walking the Rounds

Week 7: The Practice of Walking the Rounds

When pilgrims arrived to a sacred site, they “walk the rounds” a prescribed number of times around each marker in the landscape – well, church, gravestones, etc. This is an act of slowing down and moving into intuitive knowing.

Week 8

The Practice of Learning By Heart

Week 8: The Practice of Learning By Heart

Ancient monks didn’t always have regular access to books so they often had to learn large blocks of text by heart such as the psalms. This continued the earlier Celtic oral tradition.

Week 9

The Practice of Solitude and Silence

Week 9: The Practice of Solitude and Silence

The Celtic monks were following in the footsteps of the desert mothers and fathers in seeking out places of radical retreat and deep stillness. In this commitment to silence they nourished an intimate relationship to the sacred.

Week 10

The Practice of Seasonal Cycles

Week 10: The Practice of Seasonal Cycles

For the Celtic imagination the year was a wheel, always moving in circles and cycles. They marked the solstices and equinoxes as well as the Celtic feast days as potent thresholds in time.

Week 11

The Practice of Landscape as Theophany

Week 11: The Practice of Landscape as Theophany

Celtic lands tell a story through stone, sky, and sea. Landscape is revelatory of the divine presence. You are invited to listen for what holy wells, church ruins, and other markers whisper to you.

Week 12

The Practice of Three Essential Things

Week 12: The Practice of Three Essential Things

In both the Celtic and desert traditions was a practice of asking a wise guide what the three essential things are. The answer is always different inviting us to discern our own list.

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. Betsey’s publications include books, recordings, and The Dancing Word series of DVDs on embodied prayer. You can find out more about Betsey at her website.

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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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!

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