Earth Our Original Monastery
By Christine Valters Paintner
Everything in creation becomes a catalyst for my deepened self-understanding. The forest asks me to embrace my truth once again. The hummingbird invites me to sip holy nectar, the egret to stretch out my wings, the sparrows to remember my flock.
Each pine cone contains an epiphany; each smooth stone offers a revelation. I watch and witness as the sun slowly makes her long arc across the sky and discover my own rising and falling. The moon will sing of quiet miracles, like those which reveal and conceal the world every day right before our eyes.
I crave a wide sea of wordless moments, to express myself in another language, one more ancient and primal. I want to become a disciple of silence and hear in that shimmering soundlessness the voice of the one who whispers in stillness, whose singing vibrates in stones, who out of the silence calls forth a radical commitment of which I do not yet know the shape.
We emerge from the Earth matrix. The structures and rhythms of Earth are not external to our own thriving, rather we arise from this holy sanctuary; it is vital to our own thriving. Creation as sacred space is the very foundation of our own existence.
Earth is that great biosphere which sustains our life moment by moment, providing oxygen and nourishment. We are woven into this Earth web, even though we may sometimes be tempted to view ourselves as separate from it, as objective observers, rather than subjective participants.
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE is a dear friend of Mercy by the Sea. Live from Galway, Ireland where she lives with her husband John, Christine will facilitate Mercy by the Sea’s first, weekend retreat titled “The Wisdom of Wild Grace” that will take place this fall during the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. Christine is the online Abbess at www.AbbeyoftheArts.com, a virtual monastery integrating contemplative practice and creative expression.
She is the author of 12 books on spirituality and creativity including her most recents, Earth Our Original Monastery: Cultivating Wonder and Gratitude Through Intimacy with Nature (Ave Maria Press, 2020) and her second collection of poetry, The Wisdom of Wild Grace (Paraclete Press, 2020). She and her husband John live in Ireland where together they lead writing retreats and pilgrimages in Ireland, Scotland, Germany and Austria.