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The Love of Thousands

A self-study online retreat

Registration Fee: $200 USD

Program Description

The infinite community and the love of thousands who shimmer beyond the veil between worlds can help sustain us in dark times.

We can often feel alone and isolated in our individualistic culture. The frenzy of working long hours and keeping up with all of our commitments can mean there isn’t time to cultivate our relationships with others. In addition we are encouraged to bear the burdens we carry on our own and not show signs of vulnerability or ask for help. This is an exhausting way to live.

The support we need to thrive in life comes not just from people who are living in this physical world alongside us but also from those who have passed beyond the veil, such as saints and ancestors. Jewish, Islamic, and Christian scriptures also reveal to us a long tradition of encounters with angelic beings who bring messages and protection.

Angels are those spiritual presences who act as guardians (Eden), appear in dreams to offer a calling (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Mary, and Joseph) or new name (Isaac), who wrestle with us (Jacob), who ask us for hospitality (Abraham, Sarah, and Lot), and who minister and tend to us in the wilderness (Elijah and Jesus). We will begin our own retreat by asking the angels to support and minister to us as we listen more deeply for our authentic calling.

In the Christian tradition saints are those wise and well ancestors of spirit who have passed through the veil in a state of vibrant wholeness. Not everyone who dies is a well presence and so we look to the saints to be able to call upon those who lived lives transformed by their intimate and abiding connection to the sacred and deep rootedness in Love.

Christian tradition also has a vibrant practice for honoring our ancestors of blood and bone, those beings who walked this earth, struggled with life, celebrated, grieved, and whose choices brought us into being. Our ancestors, just like human beings, have varying degrees of wellness upon death and can continue to heal even after they have passed on. We can do the inner work needed to heal the wounds we inherited and we can open to the blessings they bestow upon us.

We will be standing on the threshold between worlds, courting connection with all those well and wise ones who dwell beneath the surface of everyday awareness. In Celtic and many other indigenous traditions, the belief is that we are part of a great communion of beings who live in the Otherworld. Angels, saints, and ancestors are sacred presences we can call upon and develop intimacy with, just like any human friendship. By cultivating this practice of connection, we are nourished with tremendous resources of emotional and spiritual support for the challenging times of our lives. It is an act of humility to yield our own agendas and need to carry everything ourselves and ask others to journey alongside of us and support us into our own vibrant wholeness.

You will need to order a copy of The Love of Thousands: How Angels, Saints, and Ancestors Walk With Us Toward Holiness in addition to registering for the program. *Artwork on book cover above by Elise Ritter (used with permission).

You have lifetime access to all online programs.

What's Included

  • 14 webinar recordings in audio and video format with Christine Valters Paintner
  • 14 guided audio meditations from Christine Valters Paintner
  • 14 scripture reflections from John Valters Paintner
  • 14 visio divina videos with Elise Ritter’s artwork
  • 14 recorded conversations with guest teachers. Many of these conversations include bonus meditation experiences from the teacher.
  • 14 dance prayer videos from Betsey Beckman
  • 14 closing blessings videos


Weekly Rhythm of Content

Day 1: Recorded webinar with Christine including teaching and meditation

Day 2: Scripture reflection from John

Day 3: Visio divina with Elise Ritter’s art

Day 4: Guest teacher conversations

Day 5: Dance prayer videos with Betsey

Day 6: Closing blessing video and reflection questions

Day 7: Time for rest and integration

All video recordings have the option to view with closed captions and cc transcripts are available.

*art by Elise Ritter (used with permission)

Weekly Themes

Week 1

Calling on Archangels

Week 2

Encountering Your Guardian Angel

Week 3

Wrestling with Angels

Week 4

We Are All Called to Be Saints and Mystics

Week 5

Embodied Love

Week 6

Saints and Pilgrimage

Week 7

Blessings of Our Ancestors

Week 8

Intergenerational Wounds and Our Responsibilities

Week 9

Grieving Our Losses

Week 10

Ancestral Pilgrimage

Week 11

Cosmology, Myth, and Song

Week 12

Becoming Wise and Well Ancestors

Week 13

Ancestral Earth and Deep Time

Week 14

The Love of Thousands

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 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 Headshot

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 at


Guest Teacher Conversations

Elizabeth Klein
Dr. Elizabeth Klein, assistant professor of theology at the Augustine Institute and author of Angels and Saints: Who They Are and Why They Matter
Jamal Rahman

Imam Jamal Rahman, Sufi Interfaith Minister and author of numerous books including The Fragrance of Faith: The Enlightened Heart of Islam

Richard OB loose

Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, musician and composer of progressive community songs for the global church

Beverly Lanzetta

Beverly Lanzetta, theologian, contemplative scholar, and author of numerous books including The Monk Within: Embracing a Sacred Way of Life

Carl McColman

Carl McColman, spiritual director, retreat facilitator and author of numerous books including The New Big Book of Christian Mysticism


Carmen Acevedo Butcher, teacher, author, and award-winning translator of many mystical texts including The Cloud of Unknowing and The Practice of the Presence


Mary Earle, Episcopal priest, poet, spiritual director, retreat leader, and author of numerous books including Celtic Christian Spirituality: Essential Writings

Lindsay Sudeikis

Lindsay Sudeikis, spiritual director, Ancestral Lineage Healing Practitioner, and Theology Educator


Catherine Dunne, psychotherapist, an Ancestral Lineage Healing Practitioner, and a Movement Medicine Teacher

Zari Weiss

Rabbi Zari Weiss, spiritual director, teacher, writer, and Rabbi in the Jewish tradition

Lydia Violet

Lydia Violet, musician, composer, scholar, teacher, social justice advocate

Patrick Reyes

Patrick Reyes, theologian, executive leader, host of Sound of the Genuine podcast, and the author of The Purpose Gap and the forthcoming Pedagogy of the Ancestors


Alana Levandoski, singer songwriter, recording producer, folk opera composer, and essayist


Justin Coutts, Celtic scholar, contemplative leader, and writer

Praise for the Course

I feel as though I've been brought into a new room, filled with windows that are all now partially open. Each one looking out onto a vast open space, filled with companions who are waiting for me. Through the retreat I've been given a deeply beckoning glimpse into new possibilities, into a whole new cosmology.
Diane Ayer
This was the first time I had taken an Ancestry retreat with the Abbey and I loved the mix of Angels, Saints and Ancestors, intermingled together with the offerings each day. It was rich and gentle, at the same time expanding my perceptions in quite a few ways.
Jenny Ryan
I became aware of the saints in ways I never knew before since they were not a part of my religious upbringing. I became attuned to my ancestors and the ways I can connect and learn from them and how to become a wise and well ancestor myself. I learned about the Archangels and how I can commune with all my angels. . . . This retreat is something I will continue to come back to time and again.
Debby Schimmel
Such a blessing to connect with the angels, Archangels, Saints/saints, and the Wonder of Ancestral Earth. So grateful for the push/spark that moves me to connect with my own ancestors.
Soo Choo Lee
"Thanks so much for this work about the angels, saints and ancestors. It has definitely opened up a large support for me that I will continue to explore and learn about. What a gift to discover this at my age of 80. God is amazing as are all who worked together to gift me with this grace.
Gladys M.


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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.