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Watershed Moments in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures

Registration Fee: $150 USD

Program Description

The Bible is not a single, declarative statement of fact. It is a series of competing voices wrestling with great questions of faith. Of the many Biblical stories, three (The Exodus, The Exile, and The Crucifixion & Resurrection of Jesus) are the most foundational. Prior to each of these watershed moments our spiritual ancestors thought they had life figured out. They thought that they had God figured out, or at least had come to accept their spiritual fate. And then suddenly everything changed: forgotten slaves are rescued, an invincible nation is destroyed, the Messiah is executed and returns.

This self-study retreat will explore these watershed moments in sacred history that motivated the authors of Scripture to write down their stories of faith for themselves and future generations. Through reflection, contemplation, and creative practice we will ask ourselves these same questions that continue to shape our own faith journeys today.

Why are we so blessed?
(The Exodus)

Why do we suffer so much?
(The Exile)

Who was Jesus of Nazareth?
(The Crucifixion & Resurrection)

What's Included

Six days each week you will 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 and audio format which you can read and listen to at any time. You have lifetime access to the materials in the course.

Day 1 – Introduction and First Reflection by John

Day 2 – Guided Lectio Divina Practice with Christine

Day 3 – Richard’s reflections on a Psalm and accompanying song

Day 4 – Invitation to Midrash writing

Day 5– Melissa’s invitation to Creative Expression

Day 6 – Conclusion & Second Reflection by John

Day 7 – Sabbath Rest

  • Rich, engaging content posted six times each week on our user-friendly online platform (with one day for Sabbath rest and integration) . You have lifetime access to the materials.
  • Thoughtful and thought-provoking commentary on scripture passages from biblical scholars John Valters Paintner and Richard Bruxvoort Colligan
  • A song each week composed by psalmist Richard Bruxvoort Colligan to deepen into the materials
  • An audio recording of Christine Valters Paintner leading you in the practice of lectio divina each week.
  • A weekly creative invitation from Melissa Layer designed to engage the questions in intuitive ways.
  • A weekly invitation into the practice of writing Midrash with the scripture texts (an imaginative journey with the scriptures).

Weekly Themes

Week 1

Introduction and Foundations of Faith (Abraham & Sarah to Joseph) – Why were we chosen

Week 1: Introduction and Foundations of Faith

The Bible has a quite a grand scope, covering everything from Creation to the Apocalypse, the birth of a people to the death of their nation, beginning with the very personal calling of a couple by a new (to them) God.

Week 2

The Exodus (Moses & the Ten Plagues) – Why are we so blessed?

The Exodus (Moses & the Ten Plagues)

After finding themselves enslaved far from the Promised Land of their ancestors, the Hebrews begin to think that their God had abandoned them. When suddenly, out of the wilderness comes a spokesman of their ancestral God come to fight for their freedom and to lead them home again.

Week 3

The Creation Myths – Why is there suffering?

The Creation Myths – Why is there suffering?

While most ancient peoples simply accepted that life was short, brutal, and nasty because that’s the way their gods wanted it, the Israelites believed in a good and loving god. So they wrestled with why there was suffering in a world created by a gracious Creator.

Week 4

The Babylonian Exile – Why do bad things happen?

The Babylonian Exile – Why do bad things happen?

Their defeat and under destruction at the hands of the Babylonians comes as the greatest shock of all to the Israelites, as their entire understanding of their place in the world as God’s Chosen People is tossed on its head.

Week 5

Incarnation – How is God made manifest in the world?

Incarnation – How is God made manifest in the world?

Despite all the prophetic hints about a lowly and humble Messiah, the Jews are expecting a mighty warrior to come free them from Roman oppression. So unexpected is a poor child born in a stable, that most of them don’t acknowledge the Messiah standing before them.

Week 6

The Crucifixion – Who *was* Jesus of Nazareth?

The Crucifixion – Who *was* Jesus of Nazareth?

Jesus goes from entering Jerusalem to the cheers of adoring followers (some of whom have finally started to come to terms with his role as Messiah) to having the crowds chant for his death so quickly that the Apostles are left shell-shocked.

Week 7

Resurrection – Who *is* Christ Jesus?

Resurrection – Who *is* Christ Jesus?

Just as the Apostles are cowering in fear for their lives, Jesus returns to walk with and talk with them. Once again, everything they thought they knew about Jesus is thrown into disarray.

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 Painter, MTS

John 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 Berkely. 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.


Melissa Layer, MA

Melissa honors our unfolding journeys through life’s transitions and challenges as compelling invitations for creative, integrative, meaning-making in BodyMindSpirit. Serving as a psychospiritual therapist and interfaith spiritual director, she offers compassionate presence and deep listening with the ear of her heart. Calling upon the rich realms of symbol, synchronicity, metaphor and expressive arts, Melissa encourages curious exploration of the Great Mystery in extraordinarily ordinary moments. The evergreen forests of Olympia, WA in the Pacific Northwest are her sacred sanctuary. Visit Melissa’s website here>
Richard Bruxvoort Colligan - web

Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, MA

Richard 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. Visit Richard’s website here »

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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