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Eyes of the Heart: Photography as Contemplative Practice (online)

  • 17 Apr 2017
  • (PDT)
  • 03 Jun 2017
  • (PDT)
  • Online Workshop


Eyes of the Heart: Photography as Contemplative Practice

An Easter Season Online Retreat with

with Abbey of the Arts

Film is a record of the ever-changing face of God. This moment is holy, but we walk around like it’s not holy. We walk around like there are some holy moments and there are all the other moments that are not holy. [But they are] and film can let us see that. Film can frame it so we can see that, Ah! This moment. Holy.

– from the film Waking Life

Photography is a deeply contemplative practice. If we approach it with reverence and intention, it can help us to see the holy moments all around us. In this online class you will be invited to take your camera out into the world each week for photographic journeys based on an adaptation of the ancient monastic practice of lectio divina and specific guided themes. In the process of slowing down and lingering over moments of beauty, you will cultivate sacred seeing, your ability to see the world beneath the surface appearance of things.

Photography is essentially about the play of light and dark, illumination and shadow, much as the spiritual journey is a practice of paying attention to these elements of our lives and how the holy is revealed in each. Photography is also about the choices we make in the visual framing of elements, what to include and what to exclude, whether to zoom or pull back. This is a practice of visual discernment: a way of choosing what is important and what needs to be let go of. We begin to see things differently, and in our images also discover aspects of ourselves and God.  In our discussions we will explore how to distill wisdom from the images we receive.

Are you seeking a way to bring more presence and prayerfulness to your creative expression? Are you longing for ways to practice the contemplative life which are more visual and kinesthetic? Would you some structure and encouragement in the creative path? 

This class is not about developing your technical proficiency as a photographer –  it is about cultivating your ability to see with the "eyes of the heart" (Eph 1:18).  In biblical and mystical traditions, the heart is the seat of our whole being.  To see with the heart, means we bring the whole of ourselves to whatever reality we find ourselves in. We will explore photography in service of expanding our contemplative practice and compassionate presence to the world and to ourselves.

The themes of this class are designed to build upon one another, opening you to new ways of seeing the world.  Your camera becomes a tool for contemplative practice.  Using the ancient practice of lectio divina in an adapted form, you will learn ways to become present to sacred in the world.

This retreat accompanies Christine's book – Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice – available for order online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  You will need to order a copy of the book yourself as part of the class.


Weekly Themes:

Week One: Seeing with the Eyes of the Heart, Practices and Tools to Cultivate Vision

Week Two:  The Dance of Light and Shadow

Week Three: What is Hidden and What is Revealed?

Week Four: The Symbolic Significance of Color

Week Five: What is Mirrored Back?

Week Six: Discovering the Holy Within Us

Week 7: Seeing the Holy Everywhere


What's Included:

  • Weekly reflections on photography as a contemplative practice from Christine Valters Paintner
  • Weekly reflections on scripture from John Valters Paintner
  • Seven (7) mp3 podcasts of Christine leading you through the guided meditations in the book.
  • Please note: You will need to purchase a copy of Christine's book to accompany the class directly from a bookseller.  A copy is not included in the registration fee.  Currently it is available to order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
  • A lovingly facilitated discussion forum with a vibrant community and a place to share your experiences and questions, along with your photographs. The sacred space of our forum is held by spiritual directors Melissa Layer and Amber Andreasen.
  • Christine is also offering two live video webinars on Monday, April 17th and Monday, May 29th, both at 5:00 p.m. Irish/UK time (noon Eastern time, 9:00 a.m. Pacific time). You will need a PC with either Chrome or Firefox to view the sessions live. Unfortunately Apple mobile devices are unable to access the live sessions, but can watch the recordings.
Plus!  By signing up for this retreat through The ARTbar, we will send out a special surprise gift at the end so that you can remember and reflect on your favorite photos and moments through this experience.


Your Guides for the Class:

Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE is the online Abbess of Abbey of the Arts, a global, virtual monastery inviting the life-giving dance between contemplative practice and creative expression. Christine is the author of 9 books including The Artist’s Rule: Nourishing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom. She earned her PhD in Christian spirituality and her professional status as a Registered Expressive Arts Consultant and Educator from the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association. Christine lives in Galway, Ireland, with her husband John, where they welcome groups of pilgrims and monks in the world for a dance on the wild edges of the world.

John Valters Paintner, MTS studied education and earned a teaching certificate in his home state of California. John later went on to earn a Masters in Theological Studies at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley. After working in parish ministry for several years, John returned to the classroom, teaching high school religion with a focus on the Hebrew Scriptures for twelve years. After a sabbatical year abroad, John now works as Prior of the Abbey of the Arts along side his wife of twenty years, Abbess Christine, living together in Galway, Ireland

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