March 13, 2016

It was said of Abba Agathon that for three years he lived with a stone in his mouth, until he had learnt to keep silence. (Agathon 15) The silence of the desert elders is called hesychia, which means stillness, silence, inner quiet. However, it is much deeper than just an external quiet. A person can live alone and still experience much noise within and a person can live in the midst of a crowd and have a true sense of stillness in... Read more

March 6, 2016

It can be so tempting to think, that in our busy lives multitasking will somehow make us more efficient and productive. We bemoan not having more hours in the day, but the hours we do have our attention is scattered, always trying to keep up. We spread our gaze between so many demands that we may get many things done, but none of it is nourishing. St. Benedict wisely wrote 1500 years ago, that we are called to always be beginners in... Read more

February 28, 2016

Modern life seems to move at full speed and many of us can hardly catch our breath between the demands of earning a living, nurturing family and friendships, and the hundreds of small daily details like paying our bills, cleaning, grocery shopping. More and more we feel stretched thin by commitments and lament our busyness, but without a clear sense of the alternative. There is no space left to consider other options and the idea of heading off on a... Read more

February 21, 2016

My word for this year is surplus. It is a word which has been working on me for some time now. A couple of summers ago I was pondering how to make the work I love so much sustainable both energetically and financially. Even with work that arises out of passion, we bump up against our limits of what we can give and how much renewal we need. As a contemplative and a strong introvert, my needs for quiet times are... Read more

February 14, 2016

In 2003 my mother became seriously ill quite suddenly and died a few days later in the ICU. I was only 33 at the time, she was my second parent to die and I had no siblings. I was left with a profound aloneness, even with my beloved husband’s faithful companionship. I coped at first in the way that had always served me well. By being strong and holding everything together, keeping busy when I could so that I could... Read more

February 12, 2016

Several years ago, before moving to Ireland, I completed a training to teach yoga. I began the program because I had practiced yoga for many years and longed to dive more deeply into it. I expected to fall in love with my own body even more in the process; what I didn’t expect was how much I would fall in love with other people’s bodies as well. As I walked around the studio and students are in their various poses I see the... Read more

February 11, 2016

Today is the Feast of St. Gobnait.  I only learned about St. Gobnait after moving to Ireland and she is one of the few Irish women saints. She is a 5th-6th century monk who fled her home in County Clare and headed first for the island of Insheer. It is not clear why she fled, only that she was seeking refuge on the Aran Islands. There is a deep and rich tradition among the Irish monks to seek out the place... Read more

February 7, 2016

This week we enter the long desert of the Lenten season. If you participate in a liturgical service, most likely you will be marked with the sign of ashes and the words “from dust you came and to dust you shall return” will echo through the sanctuary space again and again. St. Benedict writes in his Rule to “keep death daily before your eyes” and Amma Sarah, one of the desert mothers said, “I put my foot out to ascend the ladder, and... Read more

February 1, 2016

Most of what we know about St. Brigid comes from the Life of Brigid written by the monk Cogitosis in the second half of the seventh century. The Life emphasizes her healings, her kinship with animals, her profound sense of hospitality and generosity, and her concern for those oppressed. These stories of the saints are not meant to be literal or historical, but spiritual, mythical, archetypal, and psychological, resonating with the deepest parts of our souls. Her feast day is February 1 which in... Read more

January 25, 2016

I am transitioning here on Patheos from my previous infrequent column (Seasons of the Soul) to a more regular blog presence here under the name The Sacred Art of Living. This was actually the first name of my very first blog I started ten years ago and which eventually morphed into my current website Abbey of the Arts. I am delighted to have an opportunity to reclaim this name and identity as a part of my shift, and to make... Read more

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