In her new book, “The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul With Monastic Wisdom,” author Christine Valters Paintner offers a twelve-week program to introduce monastic wisdom and practice to anyone wanting to integrate spirituality and creativity. In her spiritual journey, Paintner has discovered that the contemplative path allows her creativity to flourish in ways it never did before she embraced monastic practice.
I must confess that I haven’t done the twelve-week journey. I’m not feeling very monkish lately. Summer (and especially this summer) seems to zap what little holiness I posess, as I work out of my son’s bedroom and am interrupted about every ten minutes by his changing sports attire and gear. I can’t really get mad at him, though, because, after all, I am occupying a sizable chunk of his room. I do pay him rent, which doubles if I don’t pay on time. Business men, these little people are today.
Sorry, I digress. I don’t think monks do that.
I did go through the book and mark some of the beautiful passages she includes. Those alone, I think, will inspire you, as they did me. Apologies, again, for the formatting mess. I have yet to figure out what I’m doing wrong:
The heart of human identity is the capacity and desire for birthing. To be is to become creative and bring forth the beautiful. –John O’Donohue
Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
A hundred times.
Come, yet again, come, come. –Rumi
There is in us an instinct for newness, for renewal, for a liberation of creative power. We seek to awaken in ourselves a force which really changes our lives from within. And yet the same instinct tells us that this change is a recovery of that which is deepest, most original, most personal in ourselves. To be born again is not to become somebody else, but to become ourselves. –Thomas Merton
A new beginning! We must learn to live each day, each hour, yes, each minute as a new beginning, as a unique opportunity to make everything new. Imagine that we could live each moment as a moment pregnant with new life. Imagine that we could live each day as a day full of promises. Imagine that we could walk through the new year always listening to a voice saying to us: “I have a gift for you and can’t wait for you to see it! Imagine!” –Henri Nouwen
The true monastery was not dependent on the enclosure of walls. It was, rather, a quality of consciousness or a state of heart that involved daily commitment to maintain an inner aloneness—that place where God and soul dwell in intimacy. –Beverly Lanzetta
Silence is never merely the cessation of words….Rather it is the pause that holds together—indeed, it makes sense of—all the words, both spoken and unspoken. Silence is the glue that connects our attitudes and our actions. Silence is the fullness, not emptiness; it is not absence, but the awareness of presence. –John Chryssavgis
I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each, it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one’s being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes, in some area, an athlete of God. Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired. –Martha Graham
Come to the edge, He said. They said: we are afraid.
Come to the edge, He said.
They came. He pushed them, and they flew … –Guillaume Apollinaire
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
And find that the dark, too, blooms and sings. –Wendell Berry
I love the dark hours of my being
In which my senses drop into the deep. –Rainer Maria Rilke
Work is love made visible. –Kahlil Gibran
The night will give you a horizon wider than you can see. –David Whyte