Christine Valters Paintner — an American expatriate living in the west of Ireland — joins us on Encoutering Silence to explore the intersections of silence, spirituality, contemplation, creativity, and living as a monk in the real world.
Author, poet, spiritual director, and Benedictine Oblate Christine Valters Paintner serves as the online Abbess at www.AbbeyoftheArts.com, a virtual monastery without walls. She is the author of twelve books on spirituality, contemplative practice, and creative expression, including: The Artist’s Rule, The Eyes of the Heart, The Wisdom of the Body, and The Soul’s Slow Ripening. Next year Paraclete Press will publish her collection of poetry, Dreaming of Stones.
I started to realize how photography has a lot of violence in its language — so there’s capturing, shooting, taking… the way that we interact with photography is very much about seizing the movement in this kind of violent way. What if when we were with our camera, we looked at it as receiving a gift, rather than taking something? — Christine Valters Paintner
Drawing connections between her life experience as an introvert and her early spiritual formation shaped by Jesuit education and the wisdom of St. Benedict and St. Hildegard of Bingen, Christine shares how a silent retreat inspired her to find the silent, contemplative dimension of artistry, poetry, movement — as well as winter time as a powerful season for contemplative rest and unknowing which is its own contribution to the creative process.
I find that creative work is a lot about just giving ourselves permission to make mistakes, and to have fun, and to do things that we maybe haven’t done since we were a child, and there is a lot of freedom that comes with that. — Christine Valters Paintner
She reflects on how the experience of grieving, living with an autoimmune illness, and embracing our embodied selves, are some of the many portals through which the mystery of contemplative silence has invited her — and can invite all of us — into stillness and unknowing, and into finding ourselves in the present moment.
Christine offers a special treat at the end of our conversation — she reads a never-before-published poem of hers, “Saint Francis and the Grasshopper.”
I believe in the revolutionary power of stillness and spaciousness, and of practicing presence to life’s unfolding. I believe this commitment can change the world. — Christine Valters Paintner
Some of the authors and resources mentioned in this episode:
- Christine Valters Paintner, The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom;
- Christine Valters Paintner, The Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice;
- Christine Valters Paintner, The Wisdom of the Body: A Contemplative Journey to Wholeness for Women;
- Christine Valters Paintner, The Soul’s Slow Ripening: 12 Celtic Practices for Seeking the Sacred.
- Christine Valters Paintner, Dreaming of Stones: Poems
- Christine Valters Paintner, Lectio Divina: The Sacred Art
- Saint Benedict, The Rule of Saint Benedict
- Saint Hildegard of Bingen, Selected Writings
- Mary C. Earle, Beginning Again: Benedictine Wisdom for Living with Illness
- Mary C. Earle, Days of Grace: Meditations and Practices for Living with Illness
- Mary C. Earle, Broken Body, Healing Spirit: Lectio Divina and Living with Illness
- Reginald Ray, Touching Enlightenment: Finding Realization in the Body
- Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity
- The Desert Mothers and Fathers, Early Christian Wisdom Sayings
- Denise Levertov, The Collected Poems
- Mary Oliver, Devotions: The Selected Poems
- David Whyte, River Flow: New and Selected Poems
- Billy Collins, Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems
- Thomas Merton, Collected Poems of Thomas Merton
- Saint Francis of Assisi, In His Own Words: The Essential Writings
When I do spend that time in silence and solitude, I am so nourished by this sense of something so much more expansive and deep and generous, that that naturally spills over into how I want to live my life. — Christine Valters Paintner
Episode 40: Silence, Art, and Contemplation: A Conversation with Christine Valters Paintner
Hosted by: Carl McColman
With: Kevin Johnson, Cassidy Hall
Guest: Christine Valters Paintner
Date Recorded: October 29, 2018