Hello! As I think about what I'd like to communicate with Anamchara readers, an imaginary scene comes to mind. You and I are sitting in my living room together, and while we enjoy a cup of tea and some biscuits, we get to know each other. Since I don't know your name, I'm going to think of you as "Pilgrim," someone who is on a spiritual journey, seeking to discover new meaning and new connections with God. After we've talked about you for a bit, you begin to ask me questions about myself. Here's how the conversation goes:
Pilgrim: You’ve written more than thirty-five books—and yet you also seem to have a busy speaking schedule that takes you around the world. Where do you find the time to write so many books?
Me: At airports.
Pilgrim: Well, I guess I mean not only where do you actually sit down and do the writing—but where do you get the inspiration?
Me: For twenty years I have lived on Britain’s Holy Island of Lindisfarne. That has been a rich source of inspiration for all my writing.
Pilgrim: Tell me about Lindisfarne.
Me: It’s known as the Cradle of Christianity to English-speaking peoples. The first WASPS (White Anglo Saxon Pagans) were converted to Christ from there in the seventh century through Saint Aidan’s Irish Mission. Now it’s a fishing village, a nature reserve, and a place of retreat for spiritually thirsty pilgrims—people like yourself—who come from five continents to seek God there.
Pilgrim: I know you write about Celtic Christianity. But what can I, as a twenty-first-century person, find in this?
Me: A great deal. For example, Celtic Christianity can offer you what I think of as Roots, Relationships, and Rhythms. By Rhythms I mean God’s design and destiny for us, which we can find woven into all of life.
Pilgrim: Could you give me an example of this theme in your writings?
Me: Hmm, well, the reading for August 24 in Celtic Book of Days is a good one, I think. It's titled "A Rhythm of Praise and Prayer," and it quotes some words of David Adam. Let me read them to you—
Ebb tide, full tide
Let life’s rhythms flow
Full tide, ebb tide
How life’s beat must go.
Pilgrim: That's beautiful. But isn't Celtic spirituality more Pagan than Christian? Can "Celtic Christianity" really be considered to be biblical?
Me: Actually, it is more biblical than much of the stuff we have been brought up with in recent centuries.
Pilgrim: Really? Give me an example.
Me: Hebrew teaching in the Bible has a holistic perspective that modern Christianity has often lost sight of. In the Hebrew Scriptures (what Christians call the Old Testament), the meaning of "Shalom" implies harmony between me, my neighbour, my country, the alien, the land, and God. Celtic spirituality is completely in harmony with this ancient perspective. It reveals the relationship between Christ and creation, between my local church and the universal Body of Christ, between personal faith and social justice. That's an enormous challenge that goes far deeper and wider than most Christians like to consider. And it has huge implications in today's world.
Pilgrim: Wow! That’s really cool—but also scary.
Me: Sure. But the Celtic path to Christ is the greatest adventure in the world—an endless adventure. And it starts where we are and takes us on in simple, gentle steps.
Pilgrim: Can you tell me more?
Me: Well, I am the Founding Guardian of the international Community of Aidan and Hilda, and people of all backgrounds follow our Way of Life. You can find this on www.aidanandhilda.org.us. I think the future of the world may hinge on Christians becoming ‘Followers of the Way’ once again. Most of my writing seeks to explore what this means.
You can look at my blog at www.raysimpson.org if you want to read more of my musing on Celtic Christianity. And to get the WHOLE story, read Celtic Christianity!
Ray Simpson is the author of several books on Celtic spirituality, including Celtic Christianity: Deep Roots for a Modern Faith and The Celtic Book of Days: Ancient Wisdom for Each Day of the Year from the Celtic Followers of Christ.