A God That Encircles: My Journey through Celtic Christianity
As a Celtic Christian I’ve seen this question a lot, especially online and mostly posed by someone who seems to think putting any kind of prefix to the word ‘Christian’ cheapens it. I disagree, but to begin to try and answer the question posed above I must stop briefly at the beginning.
I was born into a very Evangelical Christian home, to two loving, Bible believing parents who attended church twice on Sundays and at least once during the week, with my younger sister and I in tow.
I was raised on Church and the Bible, but by my early teens I’d become thoroughly disenchanted with the religion of my childhood.
I’d always seen the world a little differently from those around me. Some three years ago a Reverend friend of mine suggested I look into Celtic Christianity, and though I took her advice and bought John O’Donoghue’s CELTIC CHRISTIANITY, I did not venture deeper.
Not until last year April when an Amazon gift voucher and urging from a still small Voice put three books onto my kindle. WATER FROM AN ANCIENT WELL, PRAYERS FROM AN ANCIENT WELL and BRIGID’S MANTLE…all on the subject of Celtic Christianity…and slowly, very slowly I started the long journey home.
But the question remains, why Celtic Christianity? Indeed I have often asked myself the same question these past months… Christ and God are still, as ever, the central focal points. The Bible is essential and prayer is a huge part of daily life…
In the end I think it comes down to our view of the world.
CHRIST AND GOD IN ALL THINGS
To the Celtic Christian, God and Christ are everywhere, in and through, above and below all of creation. Encircling all things, every second of every day. The Circle Prayers of the Celts illustrate this:
God to enfold me, God to surround me, God in my speaking, God in my thinking. God in my sleeping, God in my waking, God in my watching, God in my hoping. God in my life, God in my lips, God in my soul, God in my heart. God in my sufficing, God in my slumber, God in mine ever-living soul, God in mine eternity.
In this view we are always surrounded and enfolded in the Presence of God and Christ, we simply fail to notice this most of the time.
Julian of Norwich the 14th century mystic said that we are not merely made by God, we are made of God. Meaning that in the very deepest part of all of us, is a spark of God. And let’s be clear, I’m not denying sin or evil in the life of any given person, myself included. But deeper and more pervasive than the sin, is that Divine Spark. Not just in us, but in all of creation.
Christ shows us the way to that spark, takes away the sin that obscures who we are. He leads us back to our truest selves.
Creation in the Celtic Christian view is seen as sacred, because it too contains the Divine spark of God. Looking at nature, I see an image of God as an Artist in love with variety and color and growth. Someone who is almost wastefully abundant and loves to experiment, dare I say play? Someone who creates for the sheer joy of creating…
COMPANIONS ON THE JOURNEY – SOUL FRIENDS AND SAINTS
A soul friend is like a spiritual confidante someone who you can be totally honest with and who keeps you from wandering too far off the path while offering support and prayer.
Saints…to me they also fall into the soul friend category, and no, I don’t worship the saints, but I recognize them as having walked this path before me, they are my brothers and sisters in Christ and their stories (though fantastical at times) still carry deep truths within them which serve to teach and inspire.
At present a Saint that particularly inspires and uplifts me is Brighid of Kildare, whose generosity, love, respect and kindness enabled a largely peaceful conversion of Pagan Ireland…
AWE AND MYSTERY
All the above combine to leave me with a sense of a God who is so much greater and vaster than I could ever have imagined, a God as close and intimate as our very next breath and yet Unknowable and utterly Mysterious. A God of awe and wonder, joy and justice.
A God that encircles.
So you see, for me putting ‘Celtic’ as a prefix to the word ‘Christian’ does not cheapen my faith, nor does it diminish Christ…it simply gives me permission to see God and Christ in everything and everyone…
By Mercia van der Vyver