Cover Image: Earth, Our Original Monastery

Earth, Our Original Monastery

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Member Reviews

This is the second book by Christine Valters Paintner that I have read, the first being THE SOUL'S SLOW RIPENING, which I loved! When I saw that she had released another book, I knew with a certainty that I'd be in for a cozy treat. What I didn't expect, was to breeze through the book in two days time. I just couldn't seem to put it down! EARTH, OUR ORIGINAL MONASTERY answered a part of my heart and spirit that was hurting and in need of mending.  

Every single page is full of wisdom and comfort, but is written in the familiarity that comes between friends. In other words, I didn't feel as if I was sitting in a classroom, learning from a complete stranger; but rather in my living room, listening to the words of my kindest friend. Christine Valters Paintner walks you through communing with nature, suggestions for contemplative walks and invitations to restorative baths and healing teas, all with the idea of bringing you closer to our Lord. 

For the sake of honesty, there were a couple things that didn't resonate with me theologically...such as referring to the creation story of Genesis as a "creation myth," for example. But taking the heart of the writer into context, it is easy to see what lesson is trying to be taught in these passages. 

Highly recommend!
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"To see that teachers of grace exist everywhere means to bring a sense of reverence to the way we walk in the world. ...all our interactions with nature can be sacramental." Earth, Our Original Monastery invites us into a constant communion with our earth and the world around us at such a critical time. It is both a love song to creation and filled with practical, holy, and ebodied prayer practices. Deeply moving, deeply grounding...beautiful.
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To sit and be present with Mother Earth is to be present to our most intrinsic ways of being. It is like entering a wide open cathedral whose arms embrace us with her branches, teach us lessons on the wind, and offer us grace in times of confusion and hardship. In Earth, Our Original Monastery, Christine Valters Paintner offers us beautiful ways to see, experience, and expand our relationship with Earth & nature while cultivating and deepening our personal sense of wonder and gratitude for the world. For this, I am immensely grateful.
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Earth, Our Original Monastery, offers a framework for deepening one's relationship with the Earth.  Through original material, quotes,  scripture, prayer and blessings, Painter invites us into experiencing Earth as more than place rather as friend.   She challenges to be thankful not only for the resources we gain from the Earth but also for what it teaches us.  Each chapter guides us into a fresh perspective of the Earth, seeing the Earth as: "Original Cathedral, Original Scriptures, Original Saints, Original Spiritual Directors, Original Icon, Original Sacrament and Original Liturgy," In each of these roles that the Earth plays in our everyday sacred rhythms,  Painter offers exercises for us to listen to the Earth and to seek its guidance.  She encourages savoring each moment with the Earth and taking time to sit with it.  This is a book not to be rushed through but a book offering a slow journey of encountering the Earth and absorbing all of its wisdom into our bodies, minds and hearts.
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All of Christine's books are amazing, but the timeliness of slowing to look at nature couldn't be better for my soul as we've entered this specific season of self-isolation. My neglected yard has become my sanctuary. The hundreds of weeds speaking a liturgy of hardiness and persistence. The birds singing an eternally faithful worship overhead. And all the tom cats who seem to love to wander through my yard are visiting saints, sharing their street wisdom that even if the worst happens and we can't afford the home we live in, God will take care of our needs. This is a book for our time. A book that reminds us that before all our man-made securities, God provided everything we need in nature itself.
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Review of Earth, Our Original Monastery

In the words of John Muir, “ Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to the body’s and soul”, Earth, our Original Monastery is your spiritual field guide to experience this. Christine’s writing,invitations and bountiful resources found in this rich book leads one into the possibilities of inner growth and transformation. To begin she proposes the invitation to live in a new way as one remains open to receive a Divine embrace with every step taken in nature. Another invitation is the enlivening of the heart 
as one sits with the Word for reflection. Lastly, the invitation to be receptive to this sacred space offered to our souls through the lives of the saints, Celtic tradition and monastic practices holding much ancient wisdom. It ‘s as if seeds are being planted on each page that have yet to burst open in the beautiful creation of God and in our hearts.

By Cathy Roby
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Christine Valters Paintner has always been an outstanding teacher of contemplative practice, inviting ordinary people living ordinary lives to become aware of the presence of the Holy (One) in all of life.  Because deepening awareness is not an easy task in our world today, she makes contemplative practice accessible in various ways.  While Christine has always had a gentle way of including an invitation to the natural world in her books, live retreats and online offerings, Earth, Our Original Monastery illuminates the deep and rich relationship humanity has had with the earth since the beginning of time.  

Christine draws on not only her own rich spiritual and creative experience but the writings of the Saints and, aided by husband John, readings of scripture.  It is obvious that she teaches what she lives.  The reader is invited to slow down and go beyond reading to find their own experience with the Holy (One) through practice!  Don’t just read this book, stop and engage the meditations and invitations to interact with nature!

For such a time as we are living now, perhaps my favorite chapter is “Earth as Original Icon” in which Christine invites us into the writings of John of the Cross and highlights the Dark Night Impasse, making space for grief and practicing lament.   

I have a special appreciation with the way in which, as she says, “Our work as spiritual seekers and contemplatives is to see all of creation as woven together in holiness and to live this truth.”  This book will resonate with all who see the good and beautiful earth as our partner in life.
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This is one of those book that makes you reflect and gives you a lot of ideas for your spiritual life.
I didn't know the author but I will surely look for her other books as I loved her style of writing.
A very helpful and interesting read, I will surely read it again.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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In my work as a spiritual director, I often invite clients to seek the divine in nature. Christine Valters Paintner’s latest, Earth Our Original Monastery, is a wonderful resource for reading the scripture that is written throughout creation. Each chapter offers a variety of modes of prayer and exploration that engage the mind, body and spirit; contemplative walks, scripture reflection, story, creative exploration, and even invitations to try working with herbs. I particularly appreciated the body practices, which are often neglected in books about prayer, but as we come to understand ourselves as part of creation, rather than separate and above, we need to bring our physical selves to God.
This isn’t a book to passively read through, or to complete quickly. It should be explored and savored. Read the opening reflection in each chapter and then take time to try some of the practices. Some may appeal more than others, and that is part of the book’s gift; there is something for everyone and for each of us at various points along our journey. For myself, I am sure that I will return to Earth Our Original Monastery again and again, both for my personal spiritual refreshment and as I work with others.
Oh, and as always with Valters Paintner, the quotes and resources are fantastic. She has most generously lead me to a wealth of other rich material.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a review copy.
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Ms Paintner states in her book that Jesus showed an attitude that creatures had worth. He used parables abut foxes, fish, etc. To me that sums it all up. The world that God created is holy and beautiful.
One of her ways to find the creator in nature is through a contemplative walk. She gives an explanation of what to do and what to look for. I wish I would have read this book 50 years ago. Then she moves onto herbs and her connection to plants. Also very interesting with ideas for the reader.
Earth as a cathedral is also discussed. Whenever I am in nature most times I feel the sanctity of the place.  From there it moves to more ideas, ways to connect and ideas about what to expect. all in all a very well written book that is for anyone that wants to feel connected to the earth and our universe. Stop feeling disconnected and return to our home , if you follow this authors advice you will do that . It is working for me as I am feeling more at peace and hopeful since reading and actually getting out in nature again.
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I read the Artist’s Rule by Christine Valters Paintner several years ago, so when I saw on NetGalley she had a new book out I was immediately interested in it. I am so glad I requested it, the book turned out to be exactly what I needed at this point in my life.

The overall theme of the book is that Earth is the original monastery and therefore, the original teacher of contemplative practice. The author states that “monastic tradition has its roots in a call to be in intimate connection with nature” and that “contemplative practice is a way to bring healing presence to the world”. She sets out to explore this theme by looking at a specific aspect of it as suggested by these names of the chapters:

Earth as the Original Cathedral
Earth as the Original Scriptures
Earth as the Original Saints
Earth as the Original Spiritual Directors
Earth as the Original Icon
Earth as the Original Sacrament
Earth as the Original Liturgy

Every chapter follows a similar pattern, there is a reflection on the chapter's theme and stories from Christian saints are shared, followed by suggested practice and scripture reflection by the author’s husband. Then there is a series of explorations such as meditation, contemplative walk, working with herbs, a visual art, and writing explorations. Each chapter includes poems and prayers written by online and live retreat participants and closes with a blessing.

There are plenty of quotes from mystics such as Thomas Merton, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Hildegard of Bingen, and many others and stories about St. Brigit, St. Melangell and more. I knew of some of these mystics and a few I only met in this book. I want to explore more about them in the future.

This book made its way deep within my soul and had me do a lot of reflecting. Just the reading of it was a meditative act. I read it slowly and savored all its pages. I hope the wisdom it conveys can set roots in the crevices of my heart and make its home there. I will treasure it always.

The author is the online abbess for the Abbey of the Arts which offers online or live retreats and pilgrimages. You can find out more about monastic spirituality by visiting the website Abbey of the Arts.
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