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Dreams – A Response

February 17, 2022
Sister Moon over our house in Georgia

My dear friend, sister, and mentor Christine Valters Paintner wrote this poem which can be found in her book “Dreaming of Stones” (Amazon link).


descend the long
dark staircase is an
act of trust that something
worthwhile waits for you there
in the cellar with its cobwebbed boxes
piled high with discarded things, the scent
of a mouse long dead and naphthalene balls.

Some days you clamber around, eyes not yet adjusted
to this night territory, so everything you bump startles
you. But some days your pupils widen and you wander
in amazement, seeing just how much light is contained
in darkness, like stones shimmering in moonlight,
and rather than return with a pile of them,

you choose one to carry back up the stairs,
back into the comfort of your home,
where this tiny gift splits open
the foundation. You look out
where the window once
was, and instead of
the brick wall of
the house next
door, you
you can now see to the horizon.

Dreams by Christine Valters Paintner

She invited retreat participants to reflect on the poem and write about what shimmered for us. This was my prayerful response. Thank you, Christine, for this opportunity ♥️☘️

descend the long 
dark staircase

As I spend more time in silence and reflection alone and with Denise
as we take this journey of Sabbath rest

I remember when
silence used to scare me
At first I blamed it on tinnitus 
a “gift” from my time in the military

But the true reality revealed
a deeper, darker reality
A fear of what I would encounter 

My past that wasn’t pleasant 
My wrong turns in life
The people I had hurt
The ones who had hurt me

It was like military exercises or deployments
The moonless nights were worrisome 
What enemy lurked in the darkness 

Now more than a decade later 
Sister Moon is my constant companion 
Her fullness guiding us through the night
Even in darkness she is there in the glimmer of starlight 

A gift offered to me through this time of Sabbath rest and time spent within the Abbey

  1. Beautiful expressions in your poem.

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