The Mystical Heart: Love as a Creative Force
Registration Fee: $350 USD
At the heart of mysticism is a profound sense of God’s intimate and transforming presence in your life which always expands your capacity for love. We can be sure that our encounter with the divine has been genuine when it leads us to greater love and compassion for self, for other, for creation, and for God.
We encounter this Ground of Love both through our own spiritual practice, opening our hearts daily to listen, but equally as important is through divine grace which always extends out toward us, always seeking to be in communion with us.
Mystics are found in all spiritual traditions and commit themselves to practice in prayer and meditation, spiritual reading, and meeting with a mentor or soul friend in an ongoing way so as to make themselves more available to these moments of encounter.
Through this series you are invited to explore with wisdom of ancient mystics like Anthony the Great and desert wisdom, medieval mystics like Hildegard of Bingen, Benedict of Nursia, Teresa of Avila, Mecthild and the Beguines, Julian of Norwich, and Kevin of Glendalough, and modern mystics like Howard Thurman, Harriet Tubman, and Thomas Merton.
Each presenter will invite you into the particular mystic’s perspective on love and through teaching, meditation, creativity, and practice you will begin to embody their wisdom and cultivate love as a conscious practice and creative force in your life.
- 10 recorded 3 hour long retreats in audio and video formats each exploring a different mystic
- Separate videos with closed captions for added accessibility
- Reflection questions and creative expression prompts for each mystic to deepen your exploration of their wisdom and how it relates to your life today
- Immediate, lifetime access to all retreat materials so you can explore the mystics in your own order and at your own pace
Mystics You Will Explore
Hildegard of Bingen
with Christine Valters Paintner & Betsey Beckman
Teresa of Avila
with Claudia Love Mair
Mechtild and the Beguines
with Sister Laura Swan
with Sophfronia Scott
Anthony the Great & the Desert Elders
with Christine Valters Paintner
with Therese Taylor Stinson
Benedict of Nursia
with Christine Valters Paintner
with Lerita Coleman Brown
Julian of Norwich
with Carl McColman
Kevin of Glendalough
with Christine Valters Paintner, Kenneth Steven, and Simon de Voil
Your Guides for the Journey
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Christine is the director of AbbeyoftheArts.com, 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.
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), producer of the Abbey of the Arts CDs, and The Dancing Word series of DVDs on embodied prayer. She offers the gift of playful improvisation whenever possible. Vist Betsey’s website.
Carl McColman a spiritual director, retreat leader, Lay Cistercian, and internationally known speaker and teacher on mystical spirituality and contemplative living. He is the author of many books, including The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Eternal Heart: The Mystical Path to a Joyful Life, and Unteachable Lessons: Why Wisdom Can’t Be Taught and Why That’s Okay. He is one of the co-hosts of the Encountering Silence podcast, and blogs regularly at Patheos, Medium, and his own website, Anamchara.com. Although he himself is a practicing Christian, his approach to contemplation and mysticism is inclusive and expansive, and he is dedicated to exploring the common ground between faith traditions; he is particularly interested in the connecting points between Christian, Buddhist and Pagan wisdom. Carl lives with his wife, artist Fran McColman, in Clarkston, Georgia, near Atlanta. Visit him online at Anamchara.com
Claudia Love Mair, MFA
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.
Lerita Coleman Brown, PhD
Lerita Coleman Brown, PhD, Ayşe I. Carden Distinguished Professor Emerita of Psychology, Agnes Scott College, is a spiritual director/companion, writer, retreat leader, and speaker. She earned her BA from UC Santa Cruz and PhD from Harvard University and her certificate in spiritual direction/companioning from the Shalem Institue for Spiritual Formation. Professor Brown promotes contemplative spirituality, the living wisdom of Howard Thurman, and uncovering the peace and joy in one’s heart on her website, peaceforhearts.com and other social media platforms. She appeared in the PBS documentaries, Back Against the Wall: The Howard Thurman Story and The Black Church. In 2019, she published, When the Heart Speaks, Listen—Discovering Inner Wisdom which chronicles her heart transplant journey. Her current book, What Makes You Come Alive—A Spiritual Walk with Howard Thurman will be published by Broadleaf Press in February, 2023.
Sister Laura Swan
Benedictine Sister Laura Swan is a member of St. Placid Priory in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She is a spiritual director and archivist as well as faculty at Saint Martin’s University where the students inspire her to learn and rethink and learn even more. Her passion has been around restoring the histories and stories of women to history (to the narratives that shape our understanding and perceptions). She is the author of numerous books including The Wisdom of the Beguines: The Forgotten Story of a Medieval Women’s Movement, The Forgotten Desert Mothers and Engaging Benedict: What the Rule Can Teach Us Today.
Sophfronia Scott is a novelist, essayist, and leading contemplative thinker whose work has appeared in numerous publications and received a 2020 Artist Fellowship Grant from the Connecticut Office of the Arts. Her book The Seeker and the Monk: Everyday Conversations with Thomas Merton received the 2021 Thomas Merton “Louie” Award from the International Thomas Merton Society. Sophfronia holds degrees from Harvard University and Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in Sandy Hook, Connecticut and is the founding director of Alma College’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing, a low residency graduate program based in Alma, Michigan. Sophfronia’s next novel, Wild, Beautiful, and Free, will be published in February. Visit Sophfronia online.
Kenneth Steven is a Scottish writer, best known as a poet. Some 16 of his collections have been published over the years, and in 2021 Paraclete Press brought out Iona, a volume of his new and selected work. Iona has been at the centre of his writing life for many years now: his novel The Well of the North Wind is swirled around the imagined story of the creation of the Book of Kells on the island. He and photographer Iain Sarjeant created another book, Iona the Other Island, about all the hidden sacred places on Iona, often overlooked and unvisited by tourists. Kenneth and his wife Kristina lead Celtic Christian retreats on Iona each October. Visit Kenneth’s website here.
Therese Taylor-Stinson is a seasoned spiritual director, an award-winning author-editor, and an ordained deacon and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA). As an organizer Therese won an award in 2018 as a Collaborative Bridge-Builder presented by Grace and Race, Inc., and an Indie Author Legacy Award for her edited work Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Stories of Contemplation and Justice. She is the founder and organizer of the Racial Awareness Festival based in Washington DC, which recently closed with its sixth annual event and seventh organizing year. Therese also founded the Spiritual Directors of Color Network, Ltd., going into its 14th year and 8 years incorporated as a nonprofit. In addition to the above, she is a certified pastoral caregiver and an Emotional Emancipation Circle Facilitator. Therese is married to Bernard Stinson. They have a daughter and two granddaughters. Her current book is Walking the Way of Harriet Tubman: Public Mystic and Freedom Fighter.
Simon de Voil
Reverend Simon Ruth de Voil is an interfaith-interspiritual minister, sacred musician, spiritual counsellor, and chaplain.His sacred work—both musical and interpersonal—explores themes of the inner landscape of the soul, the enchantment of the natural world, and the healing power of spiritual practice. As a chaplain and counsellor, Simon helps individuals and groups connect sacred presence with everyday life. Simon is also a transgender activist and a luthier in training. Visit Simon’s website here.
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