I have been so inspired by the writing and work of Christine Valters Painter, a Benedictine oblate, author, and online abbess of Abbey of the Arts. The Abbey is a virtual global online monastery offering pilgrimages, online classes & retreats, reflections, and resources which integrate contemplative spiritual practice and creative expression with monastic spirituality. They provide support and resources in becoming a monk in the world and an artist in everyday life.
Learning from members of the community in the Monk in the World Guest Post series has been a source of affirmation that, indeed, one can live according to the Rule of St. Benedict not only in the monastery but in the life one chooses to lead.
I am so honored to have my blog post shared on Abbey of the Arts on the Feast of St. Benedict! The full text is below or at Abbey of the Arts.
“I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series. Read on for Jodi Blazek Gehr’s reflection on being a Benedictine oblate.
St. Benedict is special to me for a few reasons. First, we share a birthday. I admit I was disappointed when I first discovered this. My parents had given me an illustrated book of the “Lives of the Saints” to commemorate my Confirmation. As any nine-year-old would do, I immediately looked to see who the saint was for July 11, my birthday. Perhaps Elizabeth, Mary, or Theresa would be my special saint.
Instead, I see an illustration of a man with a dark hood, a scary-looking bird, a crooked cane, and an unusual name I had only associated with Benedict Arnold. July 11, St. Benedict, Abbot, it said. I had never heard of him and surely did not know what an Abbot was. Through the years, I returned to this image of St. Benedict, thinking that I should have some connection with my patron saint.
Fast forward 26 years. With a full and busy life—married with a young daughter, a career as a high school teacher and club sponsor—I felt a deep longing for times of silence. I answered the call of my heart and responded to an advertisement for a silent contemplative prayer retreat. I discovered an oasis of peace just a few hours from home in the cornfields of Nebraska…called St. Benedict Center.Continue reading “Abbey of the Arts: Monk in the World Guest Post”