Listening to the Celtic Saints

Last Saturday we held our first ever workshop Thin Space: Learning from the Celtic Saints. 19 adults, 4 children and 2 dogs gathered at the Mustard Seed House to hear stories and share prayers from this wonderful Christian tradition that was overlooked for so long. We talked about Patrick, Kevin, Brendan, Columba and Brigid and shared some of the wonderful prayers that are attributed to these saints.  It was also a wonderful opportunity to share Celtic style hospitality over lunch.  A great way to get acquainted.  Our next Celtic style event will be our 16th annual Celtic retreat on Camano Island just north of Seattle.

Two things stood out for me.

When we were discussing developing a rhythm of prayer Ricci Kilmer shared that she kept Phyllis Tickle’s Divine Hours by the chair where she breastfeeds her baby. It is the one consistent time in her day when she needs to sit still for a few minutes. She reads the prayers as she feeds the baby. What a wonderful way to draw nourishment from God throughout the day even as she is nourishing Gabriel.

  1. At the end of the workshop people spent time reflecting on the morning and writing their own prayers based on the Celtic prayers they had heard. I have written a lot of prayers for meditation in this way and have found that this is a great way for people to connect prayer to their own lives.

Here is a prayer that Jennifer Reeve-Parker wrote entitled Stillness

Christ around me, Christ within me
Spirit in my soul, Spirit in my mind.
God my Father, God my mother, in my body, in my life
In my rushing, in my anger, my impatience and my pride
God is with me, offering mercy, peace, trust and love.
Stillness, stillness, I choose stillness.
The presence of my God is here.
In that stillness, find my center
I see who I was made to be.
Hope grace, Lord have mercy.
Next time I rush, call me back to center.
When I get angry, call me to confession.
When my pride dictates my movements
remind me of your grace once more.
Stillness, stillness, I choose stillness
The presece of my God is here.

Brendan’s voyage

Listening Point

The listening point blog has inspired me to spend more time in meditation this week. As a result I have been able to put together another meditation video. I love the meditative nature of Jeff Johnson’s music and I am delighted that he has agreed to do the music for our Celtic retreat up on Camano Island on August 18th.

I hope you enjoy this video and spend some time reflecting on God’s presence as you view it.

Making Room For Hospitality

Eliacin Rosario Cruz with John Tiersma Watson

Last night Jude and John Tiersma Watson came for dinner. They usually live in LA and work with Innerchange but are currently staying in La Conner for a sabbatical break. I had met Jude at the CCDA conference some years ago but had not seen them since. It was a wonderful evening of getting to know this delightful couple with whom we discovered we have much in common.  (The photo in case you have not guessed is of John & Eliacin Rosario – as Eliacin pointed out it is not of John &  Jude)

Entertaining in this way reminded me of one of my favourite books on hospitality is Christine Pohl’s Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition. It is also one of the most challenging books I have read because Christine talks about how in Biblical times hospitality was about entertaining strangers not friends. I think about this a lot when we have people over for dinner. Many of the people we entertain are ones we have met through our ministry and though we do not know them very well we at least know a little about them. I wonder what it would be like just to open our home to people off the street that we don’t know. Certainly a scary thought.

The only time I have ever experienced this type of hospitality was when I lived on the mercy ship Anastasis. In each port we used to hold what we called a “Highways and Byways” banquet. Taking the story Jesus tells about going out into the streets to invite people to the wedding feast, we used to arrange one evening in every port where we literally did just that. We all went out into the streets around the port and invited people home for dinner… and often we had homeless people and prostitutes and transvestites on board because they were the type of people that lived in the port area. I still remember a couple of transvestites who came on board. they were absolutely amazed that Christians would ask them home. Some of the crew stayed in touch with them for years after. Their hearts were touched and transformed by this gesture.

God’s trademark

“Everything in nature has a trademark. God’s trademark” What a wonderful thought. To read the full quote from Fr Ernesto Cardinal visit the Listening Point.

Making the Secular Sacred

Last night we had our rector Carla Pryne and her husband Eric over for dinner.  Part of our conversation revolved around the use of ritual in our lives.  We talked a lot about how the loss of ritual in our lives disconnects us from community and makes us more isolated, insecure and alone.  Most rituals are community events.   They provide opportunity for us to affirm and to encourage each other.   Even when we perform rituals on alone – such as when we light candles during our devotional time, their is often a sense of connection to others who are performing or will perform, the same ritual at some point during the day.

What we mainly talked about is how we can transform what are usually secular rituals into sacred events.  We discussed the life events that are most significant in people’s lives – losing a first tooth, receiving a driver’s licence, the transtion from childhood to teenager,  graduating from college, selling the family home.  All of these events can be given a sacred significance.  Carla talked about how, in one church she pastored they got all the young people who had received their drivers licences that year to bring them up and lay them on the altar.  Then they prayed for  the young people and dedicated their driving to God.  What a neat thing to do.

I have probably said it before, but the Jews celebrated everything good and everything bad that had happened in their lives and I think we need to as well.  Marking transitions whether they be celebrations of joy or pain is important.  People need to know that they are affrimed and honoured because of who they are and what is happening in their lives.  When we take the ritual out of our lives we are all the poorer for it and lose the anchors that enable us to connect ot each other, to God and to God’s world.

I would love to hear abotu the transitions you have marked in your life and how these have impacted you, your family and community.