Over the past fifteen years, I have had the honor of collaborating with my beloved colleague, Christine Valters Paintner, and helping her create and develop Abbey of the Arts, a global online monastery fostering contemplative and creative expression. What an exciting adventure it has been to see Abbey of the Arts become a vibrant far-reaching soul-community through the gifts of online connection and outreach. And along the way, Christine and I have become such steadfast and playful friends!
It all started when she and I came together in 2005 to teach Awakening the Creative Spirit, an experiential course designed for spiritual directors to learn how to integrate the Expressive Arts into their practice. As we shaped the material, we discovered a deep longing for all kinds of folks in soul care ministries to claim the arts as a form of prayer, contemplation and ministry. So eventually, we wrote a book out of our experience, (commissioned by Spiritual Directors International) which is now used as a textbook in spiritual direction programs across the country: Awakening the Creative Spirit: Bringing the Arts to Spiritual Direction.
Alongside our teaching together, Christine ventured into the world of the virtual online classroom and – low and behold – discovered her classes and retreats were meeting a huge need across the globe! Together, folks could find support for integrating the depth of Christian practices with emergent awareness, consciousness and creativity. Having a PhD in Christian Spirituality and being a Benedictine Oblate, Christine wove into her offerings a deep connection to monastic practices. Eventually, she felt called to develop and foster an ongoing community of creative spiritual practitioners – and what better form than an Abbey?
As Online Abbess, Christine launched the Abbey of the Arts, named the community The Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks, and wrote a Monk Manifesto to clarify the commitment to creative, contemplative and compassionate practices that community members can sign and follow. I am honored to be a member of the Abbey Wisdom Council, and an ongoing collaborator. By following the links below, you can read more about the Abbey of the Arts and consider joining us in the Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks!
One thing I truly love about the Abbey retreats and classes is that the material reaches all parts of our being – prayers, meditations, soul collage, music, poetry, photography and movement – all are modalities that are shared and taught through the offerings.
Besides joining the community, there are several categories of experiences you can choose to explore to deepen your practice including:
- Online Retreats (Group or Self-Study)
- Prayer Cycles
- Contemplative Prayer Services
- Yoga Practice
- Publications: Books, CDs and DVDs
I have had the honor of creating movement prayer material (on video) for numerous online retreats, and many of them are available as self-study. This way, while on retreat, you can explore the gift of dance as a contemplative and expressive modality without leaving the comfort of your home.