Monasteries of the Heart

Monks in Our Midst: Christine Valters Paintner on Earth as Original Monastery


Christine Valters Paintner of Abbey of the Arts recently wrote a book called Earth, Our Original Monastery: Cultivating Wonder and Gratitude through Intimacy with Nature.

In it, she considers why Earth our original monastery: "Earth is the place where we learn our most fundamental prayers, hear the call of the wild arising at dawn that awakens us to a new day, participate in the primal liturgy of praise unfolding all around us, and experience the wisdom and guidance of the seasons.” 


Here is an excerpt on how the monk's path is intertwined with nature: 

“Monastic tradition has its roots in a call to be in intimate connection with nature. The monk’s path was birthed in the forests and deserts, the places of wilderness and other wild edges that reflect an inner reality as well. 

This call to the edges, which is the monk’s call, is a call to wildness—to that which lies beyond our domesticated, neat, safe, and secure lives. Nature reminds us of the messiness and beauty of things. Nature says that when we let ourselves get messy and play in the dirt, profound things can happen."


Invitation to reflection:

  1. How does this idea of Earth as our original monastery resonate with you?
  2. What messy but profound things have happened to you from experiences in nature?


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