The desert is a place of sparse landscape, where we are stripped down to our essence and confronted with our own deep needs and desires. Naturalist and writer Terry Tempest Williams described its spiritual significance in her memoir Refuge: "If the desert is holy, it is because it is a forgotten place that allows us to remember the sacred. Perhaps that is why every pilgrimage to the desert is a pilgrimage to the self. There is no place to hide and so we are found."

We invite you to take a pilgrimage to the desert and in the process journey to your own deepest self.

"The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers with Christine Valters Paintner" is an Online Retreat that enables you to explore and engage with the insights of the desert mothers and fathers of fourth and fifth century Egypt. These men and women of God went to the desert to live out a simple but challenging spirituality that still resonates strongly for us today.

This retreat consists of a total of 28 emails, each with a quote from the desert mothers and fathers, commentary by Christine Valters Paintner, questions for reflection, and suggestions for practice. Themes explored include the importance of the cell, the cave of the heart, tears of compunction, radical simplicity, silence and solitude, detachment and inner freedom, boredom and restlessness, elders and spiritual guides, and the importance of daily practice and always beginning again.

Christine Valters Paintner is the online Abbess of, a virtual monastery offering resources and classes in contemplative practice and creative expression. She is the author of several books on monastic wisdom including the forthcoming Desert Fathers and Mothers: Early Christian Wisdom Sayings from SkyLight Paths (summer 2012). She earned her PhD in Christian spirituality from the Graduate Theological Union and as a Benedictine oblate has made a commitment to living out the monastic way in the midst of her daily life.

(4 CEHs for Chaplains available.)

Available On-Demand
(choose your own start date and frequency)


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