Christine Valters Paintner dedicates much of her professional work to supporting the arts in various ministry contexts through teaching, retreats, spiritual direction, and supervision. She is a Benedictine oblate, founder of Abbey of the Arts, and co-creator of Awakening the Creative Spirit: Experiential Education for Spiritual Directors offered each year on the Hood Canal in the Pacific Northwest. This paperback is based on those materials and is A Spiritual Directors International Book. Betsey Beckman is co-creator of the Awakening the Creative Spirit program and has a special interest in dance, which has been developed through Interplay, an improvisational dance practice.

As spiritual directors, Paintner and Beckman are primarily interested in exploring with others the mysteries of the Divine and the practice of spirituality in the midst of life. They believe that the arts offer us diverse pathways to the calling of co-creation, self-expression, wonder, beauty, the oneness of community, the multiple languages of the soul, the benefits of mindfulness, and a wealth of meanings. In alternating chapters, Paintner and Beckman delineate different art modalities including storytelling; contemplation and imagination; the dance of embodiment; visual art expression; music, voice, and rhythm; and poetry writing.

The final section deals with the relevance of the arts to different life contexts. Chapters cover Breaking Open Images of God, Engaging the Arts for Transitions and Discernment, Embracing the Arts During Grief and Loss, Bringing the Arts to Dreamwork, Celebrating the Seasons of Our Lives, and Arts-Centered Supervision. Throughout the book, spiritual direction colleagues share commentary and exercises related to the arts and spiritual direction.

Having spent 40 years teaching and advocating a wider use of the arts and media in ministry and in spirituality, we are pleased to affirm and support the work of Paintner and Beckman. We also hope that more spiritual directors turn to creative and imaginative resources in the culture as an integral part of their vocation.