When I began to shape this issue on “Blessings: The Gift of Celtic Spirituality,” I started writing blessings. Often they came to me early in the morning as I walked the dog. Images or words would come to me and weave their way into prayers. I shared these blessings on my blog and began to imagine this Alive Now issue as a collection of prayers about the ordinary experiences that mark the way through our ordinary lives.
To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings by John O’Donohue, Irish philosopher/ poet, was a particular inspiration to me. As I read his books, trying to get a handle on the aspects of Celtic spirituality, I began to realize This is the way I already live. O’Donohue writes, “The human body is actually made out of clay. . . . Our clay has a memory that preceded our minds. It had a life of its own before it took the form that we now have.”
This way of living — observing and celebrating, blessing and being blessed by the ordinary acts and encounters of life — is who I am, part of my clay. Perhaps it’s the clay of Scarriff in County Clare, Ireland, where my great-grandmother, Margaret Griffin was born. And my way of living — of watching bare branches of a tree against the glowing sky of morning, of sitting and listening to the song of the tree frogs in the back yard, of giving my life to God each morning and thanking God for the day in the evening — is a Celtic way, full of praise and gratitude and blessings.
You may also carry in you the clay of the Celts or live your life as if everything is a blessing from the Creator. I imagine your hands thumbing through this issue, reading slowly, letting the words sink deeply into your heart. I imagine you marking pages to share with a loved one. I imagine you turning to the pages of morning and night prayer each day — all of us joining our hearts in this ancient ritual. I imagine you stopping in the middle of a walk to watch the slow progression of an ant carrying a leaf across your path. I imagine you, your eyes wide open, taking a photo of the sunset or, in the early morning, writing a blessing for a new day.
Themes from Celtic spirituality provide the framework for the prayers in this issue: Blessings, Praise, Creation, Incarnation, Friendship, and Pilgrimage. I’m honored that I will use this issue as I lead worship at a 5-day Academy for Spiritual Formation on Celtic Spirituality.
Many of the prayers come from the works of Alexander Carmichael. Carmichael traveled the Scottish Highlands in the late 1800s, collected prayers from the old ones, and published them in several volumes of Carmina Gadelica: Hymns and Incantations.
Let yourself enter this world of Celtic spirituality, of blessings and gratitude, of praise and pilgrimage. May you find yourself blessed by these pages whether you are new to this path or whether you already live in a world surrounded by the ordinary experiences that mark the way through an ordinary life.
May you be blessed this day. And may you walk gently into the day, ready to see blessings all around you.
Credit: “From the Editor” by Beth A. Richardson in September/October 2014 Alive Now. Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room. Purchase a copy of this issue on “Blessings” by calling 1.800.972.0433. Or download the digital issue today.
Photo Credit: Copyright © Ann Schatzkin.