Poet, writer, and culture vulture most of her life, Pat Butler has pioneered arts in cross-cultural mission, spanning two decades and 25 countries. Pat is a founding director of OM Arts, a global ministry transforming artists to transform cultures. She has cultivated a global network of artists through short term projects, social media, writing, teaching, and mentoring. She has traveled widely, lived in France and Italy, published three poetry chapbooks, and enjoys coastal vibes, boatyards, and her own pillow.
I grew up in a small fishing village on an island in the shadow of Manhattan’s skyline, a juxtaposition that shaped me culturally, spiritually, and creatively. It informs The Mythic Monastery: an ordinary hero on an extraordinary adventure with Jesus. Or, as some would say, Star Wars meets Pilgrim’s Progress.
I began writing as a child, when I received a small diary with a tiny key. I felt I could unlock the secrets of the universe through writing. Diaries became journals and entered laptops—multiplying through the years, producing stories, essays, blogs, poems, and chapbooks.
With a contemplative artist father and a Jesuit missionary uncle, spirituality in our family was a lifestyle that integrated cathedrals and clam shacks, monasteries and boatyards, monks poring over illuminated manuscripts and fisherman hunched over nets. I inherited a contemplative spirituality with an artistic bent and a penchant for travel.
All the sizzle of Manhattan entered our home through my father, a designer, who routinely invited designers from foreign lands for a meal. Fascinated by their exotic accents, my itch to travel grew. I left for the world in 1994 as a missionary, headed for France.
A call to write followed me. In answering that call, I discovered The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler’s book on mythic structure—the Hero’s Journey. I was slain. In mythic structure I recognized the pattern of our ancient faith, “the passage of a soul through life” (as Vogler wrote). Would the Hero’s Journey work in ministry? Could it translate faith to secular humanistic France? I gave it a try—framing ministry through the Hero’s Journey. Story, like Jesus’ parables, became an essential component to my ministry.
A decade later, I was invited to join a training team for artists entering cross-cultural missions. Could I prepare curriculum on spiritual formation? Pulling my beat-up copy of The Writer’s Journey from the shelf, I fleshed out some ideas. I added spiritual disciplines and monastic practices which I had adopted in my own faith journey.
I considered a film, to provide visual and imaginative hooks to support key principles—bringing head and heart together. A worldwide community had formed around beloved characters in a rare film series that showed heroism from a Christian worldview. I had my film—Lord of the Rings—perfect for a global audience. Armed with YouTube clips and quotes, I began teaching the curriculum.
Years later, I’m still teaching it—and writing, mentoring, and engaging on social media with the material—cultivating artists around the world. The dream that began with a diary and a key continues with a book version in progress.