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The Soul of a Pilgrim: Eight Practices for the Journey Within Paperback – May 7, 2015
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"This creative, moving book beckons the pilgrim into the inner journey through daily life. Deeply grounded in creative spiritual practices, it is both a guidebook and an inspiration." --Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook, Author of Pilgrimage--The Sacred Art
"Of all the books that Christine Paintner has written, this is by far my personal favorite. To refer to it as a comprehensive manual for the journey doesn't do justice to the incredible richness of its resources. It definitely reawakened the inner pilgrim in me!" --Wil Hernandez, Obl. O.S.B., Founder and Executive Director, CenterQuest.org
"Making our own pilgrimage to the heart inside our heart is perhaps the most challenging and yet most rewarding journey we can make. The Soul of a Pilgrim is the perfect companion to have in our pocket along the way." --Bruce Davis, Retreat Leader, SilentStay.com
"Christine Valters Paintner and her husband John beckon the reader toward a transformative way of pilgrimage. Poetry, practices, and midrash weave this wisdom into daily life." --Mary C. Earle, Author of Marvelously Made: Gratefulness and the Body
"Christine Valters Paintner's latest work is an invitation to take leave of the familiar and go on pilgrimage--not necessarily by traveling abroad, but by simplifying one's life, letting go of pre-conceived and perhaps deeply rooted notions, and opening oneself up to the Spirit of wisdom in one's heart. Complemented by the scriptural reflections of her husband, John, and her own creative poetry, this marvelous book takes the reader on a journey of discovery that can profoundly change the direction of one's life." --Edward Sellner, Author of Pilgrimage: Exploring a Great Spiritual Practice
About the Author
Christine Valters Paintner is the online abbess for Abbey of the Arts, a virtual monastery offering classes and resources on contemplative practice and creative expression. She earned a doctorate in Christian spirituality from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and achieved professional status as a registered expressive arts consultant and educator from the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association.
Paintner is the author of ten books on monasticism and creativity, including The Eyes of the Heart; Water, Wind, Earth, and Fire; The Artist’s Rule; The Soul of a Pilgrim; and Illuminating the Way. She leads pilgrimages in Ireland, Austria, and Germany and online retreats at her website, AbbeyoftheArts.com, living out her commitment as a Benedictine Oblate in Galway, Ireland, with her husband, John.
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Christine Valters Paintner mirrors her spiritual pilgrimage with the physical one that she and her husband have experienced in recent years, firstly in moving from the US to Austria and then onto their current abode in Galway, Ireland.
This is one of those books that lingers in you. In a really good way. I borrow this next paragraph from another reviewer (unfortunately they go by the anonymous title of "Amazon Customer") as she wrote it so well:
"The book describes eight practices to help the pilgrim on the road. Don’t worry, these are not eight ‘disciplines’ designed to break the back of those with a less than iron will - think of ‘attitudes’ that need to be nurtured and grown. We don’t need to come to this book already ‘perfected’. Rather we come as learners, ready to traverse the spiral as many times as it takes."
Funny that, a visiting pastor described the other day our spiritual walks as not being linear rather in "loops" which supports one of Paintner's concluding remarks: "We sometimes think of the journey as a linear path to travel, when in reality we travel more in circles and spirals."
Paintner grabs inspiration from the desert monks who left civilisation behind to experience an "unhindered" perspective of God. "They yearned for an experience of God beyond the boundaries of what they had known. They let this desire lead them to wild edges." This is my desire and working through this book has helped me realise the importance of "dive[ing] into the waters of life to see where the current carries us."
For too long I've held back; by fear, uncertainty and anxiety. But Paintner describes similar concerns throughout her pilgrimage. But it's usually the scariest decisions we make that are the most fulfilling especially when we feel completely ill-equipped. And that's the point: to feel ill-equipped. Because that makes us depend on our Creator who so desires to actively walk with us and equip us with whatever we require to discover Him in all His fullness.
This book was written after Paintner had run some workshops that aided in the formulation of her premise. Further, her husband John contributes some reflections on well known Biblical passages in each chapter. We then get two practical exercises to engage in. The first, Lectio Divina using the passage John references and we're encouraged to join the scene and write our personal experience (Midrash) of it. Some examples taken from the workshops are provided which I found enlightening. The second practice is creative exploration using photography by venturing out on a contemplative walk each chapter using the Biblical story as inspiration to capture images reminiscent of that story.
So, no, I don't need to leave home even though one would be fun. Who doesn't love to travel? But I can take the same pilgrimage every day as I dive into it, hand-in-hand, with Jesus exploring all there is available and learning the power of love in all my interactions.
This is a beautifully contemplative read. It is meant to be pondered upon and prayed with. Each chapter is accompanied by suggestions for Lectio Divina, a writing exploration (Midrash), and a Contemplative Photography exercise. Each chapter is also brought to a close by a profound and beautiful reflection based on a Scripture passage by John Valters Paintner - the author's husband.
If you are someone who has been feeling the tug to "enter within"; if you are someone who desires to explore the interior landscapes of your own soul and to begin what the saints variously refer to as the journey into the Interior Castle (St. Teresa of Avila) or the ascent to Mt Carmel (St. John of the Cross), this book could be a your guide. Filled with references to scripture, poetry, and the sayings/writings of saints, and written in a deeply contemplative and loving spirit, this book is a prayerful retreat experience waiting to be had.
Pilgrim, do you hear the call? Come!
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