Although I can't afford an actual subscription, I at least receive monthly e-mails from Image: A Journal of Faith in the Arts. It's a beautiful journal, one I occasionally get my hot little hands on when artistic friends pass me a copy. My poet friend Judith has often attended their summer Glen Workshops which are far beyond both my ability and budget but are tempting, nonetheless.
As I scrolled through Image's monthly newsletter of artists, poets, photographers, etc., I ran across a recommended website that intrigued me: Abbey of the Arts: Transformative Living Through Contemplative and Expressive Arts. I have long dreamt of spending a week (two would be even better) at a monastery (a la Kathleen Norris in Cloister Walk) to communicate with God in the Liturgy of the Hours, in contemplative prayer, in scribbling in my spiritual journal, in composing poetry, in opening myself to the balm of silence and the gentle ordering of my days through praying the Divine Hours. So anything that mentions "monastery" or "abbey" immediate focuses my often-wandering attention.
I followed the link and have only started exploring the site. The first page I found intrigued me: A Monk Manifesto. It consists of a list of seven principles for those who wish to "express their inner monk in their everyday lives."
I'm all for that.
The seven principles are as follows:
Monk: from the Greek monachos meaning single or solitary, a monk in the world does not live apart but immersed in the everyday with a single-hearted and undivided presence, always striving for greater wholeness and integrity
Manifesto: from the Latin for clear, means a public declaration of principles and intentions.
Monk Manifesto: A public expression of your commitment to live a compassionate, contemplative, and creative life.
1. I commit to finding moments each day for silence and solitude, to make space for another voice to be heard, and to resist a culture of noise and constant stimulation.
2. I commit to radical acts of hospitality by welcoming the stranger both without and within. I recognize that when I make space inside my heart for the unclaimed parts of myself, I cultivate compassion and the ability to accept those places in others.
3. I commit to cultivating community by finding kindred spirits along the path, soul friends with whom I can share my deepest longings, and mentors who can offer guidance and wisdom for the journey.
4. I commit to cultivating awareness of my kinship with creation and a healthy asceticism by discerning my use of energy and things, letting go of what does not help nature to flourish.
5. I commit to bringing myself fully present to the work I do, whether paid or unpaid, holding a heart of gratitude for the ability to express my gifts in the world in meaningful ways.
6. I commit to rhythms of rest and renewal through the regular practice of Sabbath and resist a culture of busyness that measures my worth by what I do.
7. I commit to a lifetime of ongoing conversion and transformation, recognizing that I am always on a journey with both gifts and limitations.
I signed the manifesto, of course.
Although most of the classes offered at the Abbey of the Arts require payment (and, unfortunately, they are not inexpensive
If I could afford it, I would definitely take the eight-week e-course this summer entitled Beginning Again: Benedictine Wisdom for Living with Chronic Illness. Talk about a class tailor-made for my interests and challenges! But unless God drops $125 plus the cost of the book into my lap, it won't be happening. I may purchase the book the course uses, Beginning Again: Benedictine Wisdom for Living with Illness by Mary Earle, which Amazon lists at $11.27 new and from $2.57 used. That sounds more manageable for my budget although I would greatly enjoy the give-and-take of an e-course.
I've also signed up for the Abbey of the Arts e-newsletter. And there is a blog written by the "Virtual Abbess, Christine Valters Paintner" which looks wonderful, too.
So those of you who appreciate Benedictine wisdom or the value of the artistic expression for Christians, you may appreciate perusing Abbey of the Arts. Enjoy!!
On the journey with you,