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Mary Oliver as Messenger

of Life's Hidden Holiness



Jonathan Montaldo, Lynn Szabo, Sylvia Timbers, Penny Washbourn, Ari Wolfe, and a litany of Women’s Voices at St. Columba’s Inverness

In her poem “Messenger” Mary Oliver announces her work is “loving the world”. We celebrate her poetry and access her witness to Nature’s “hidden wholeness” through her disciplined discipleship in becoming a “lens of attention". Jonathan Montaldo hosts and presents her poems as spiritual exercises to experience Nature naturing, Holy Wisdom’s real work, to sustain our relationships with "the family of things”. Other voices read and ruminate upon Oliver’s poems as exemplary of her lyric art that questions our fears and too  narrow bandwidths for resonating with the “rapture of being alive.” 

Cost: $25

Limited scholarships available

All proceeds benefit St. Columba’s Inverness

Mary Oliver's Devotions, the selected poems of Mary Oliver, Penguin Books 2020, is the source text that attendees should acquire to participate fully in the workshop.

Jonathan Montaldo served as Director of the principal archive of the monk and writer’s works at the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky. He also served as the Associate Director of The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living, directing Bethany Spring (the Institute’s retreat center) one mile from Merton’s monastery, the Abbey of Gethsemani, in Trappist, Kentucky. He created the ten-booklet series for small group discussion, Bridges to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton and coedited The Intimate Merton: His Life from His Journals.  His many renditions of Merton’s writing include A Year with Thomas Merton and Thomas Merton’s Dialogues with Silence. He narrated five Merton audiobooks and continues his twenty-year service as the Co-General Editor of the nine-volume Fons Vitae series, Thomas Merton & World Religions. He presents retreats internationally based on Merton’s legacy for mentoring our spiritual formations. More information on Thomas Merton at and on Jonathan Montaldo at


Lynn Szabo is Professor Emerita of English Literature, Trinity Western University and a scholar of the poet, mystic and political activist Thomas Merton. Her writings have focused, in particular, on silence and contemplation as the ground of rituals foundational to Christian spiritual formation. She is very interested in what lies beyond, on the other side of ritual.

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Sylvia Timbers has devoted her life to spiritual development and training, and partnered in a wide variety of international business, writing, consulting and film projects. These include co-authoring God and The Evolving Universe (2002, Tarcher/Putnam) with Michael Murphy and James Redfield, a documentary in Tibet, one on consciousness for HBO, as well as several other multi-media projects focusing on metaphysical subjects. For many years she has worked as a spiritual counselor to the terminally ill, both through her private practice and through Hospice. Poetry, prayer and nature are constant beloveds on life’s sacred journey Home.

Sylvia Timbers

Penny Washbourn, a Nature mystic from childhood, in her retirement practices walking meditation, bird –watching and Tai Ji Qi Gong. She had a multifaceted career as feminist theologian, teacher of Religion and Women Studies, Business Ethics and College Administrator. In her early years she published articles under such provocative titles as “Religion and Sexuality… or Listening Between the Bedposts” and “Feminine Symbols and Death”. Her life -long commitment has been to the feminine aspect of God and the inter-connectedness of all life. She is the author of “ Becoming Woman: The Quest for Wholeness in Female Experience” and editor of “ Seasons of Women, Song, Poetry, Ritual. Myth, Story” . She is currently writing on “Aging as a Spiritual Journey” integrating her love of Celtic Christian Spirituality, especially the prayers and blessings from the “Carmina Gadelica” of the Scottish Gaelic tradition. She writes the occasional poetry.


The Reverend Ari Wolfe, MTS The Reverend Ari Wolfe (she/her) is a deacon in the Episcopal Church. With an eclectic spiritual background, she holds a Master's degree in Theological Studies from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, with a focus in the area of Queer Theology and how congregations can better extend welcome and support to people who are LGBTQ-identified. Deacon Ari was ordained in November, 2019 at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the School for Deacons. She has three adult children and lives in El Cerrito with her husband and 3 cats. A life-long social activist, she is excited to bring conversations of racial justice and a curriculum for anti-racism to the community. For more information, please visit

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