My Sisters and Brothers,
One of the things that drew me to the Celtic way of living my faith was the fact that this is precisely what it is about – Living!
In the western church, there seems to be a distinction and separation between the sacred and the ordinary. But this is a distinction that the ancient Celts couldn’t see or understand. For them, their spirituality infused every aspect of their lives… whether it was mucking out the barn, or cleaning the house, or tilling the field… or even something as simple as drinking a cup of coffee (they probably didn’t have coffee, but I’m putting it into modern terms!)
For the ancient Celts, blessings permeated everything that they did. There were blessings for waking up, blessings for going to sleep, blessings for washing, blessings for eating, blessings for walking, blessings for resting. In fact, there was pretty much a blessing for everything.
The thread of the Sacred was woven into the fabric of every aspect of their lives!
God wasn’t some distant deity who had to be worshipped in a specific building. To the ancient Celts, He was closer than their own breath, more real than physical reality! His presence could be seen in everything, and everything existed within Him!
In his book, Listening For the Heartbeat of God, J. Philip Newell writes the following:
“The Christ who is above them in the brightness of the morning sun is the Christ who is beneath them in the dark fertility of the earth. … The Christ who is within, at the very centre of their soul, is the Christ who is to be looked for in friend and stranger, Christ at the heart of all life.”
Christ is, after all, God made flesh. When He came to earth, He sanctified the ordinary things of life. By becoming human, He made sacred all the commonplace things that we do – eating, drinking, socialising, working.
But for some reason, the western church lost this permeation of the sacred through all of life. The sacred became something that priests did at an altar, following carefully prescribed rules & rituals. And the separation between the sacred & the ordinary acts of life became bigger and bigger.
This is why so many young people travel to places like India. Over there, they still see what the ancient Celts saw. Everywhere you go, there are shrines and temples, incense and chanting. The air itself seems to pulse with spirituality.
And this, I think, is what we need to get back here in the west. Like our ancient Celtic Sisters and Brothers, let us learn to look at life – ALL of life – through the eyes of the spirit. When you wake up in the morning, and make your mug of coffee, say a blessing before you drink it. This isn’t just a mug of coffee… this is a SACRED mug of coffee! God breathed His breath into the soil from which the beans came forth. He breathed His breath into the beans themselves… and the rivers, streams, or lakes where the water came from. His breath is in the clay of your mug, the metal of your spoon, the milk and sugar!
His breath is everywhere! His heart beats in the soil beneath our feet, and His voice whispers in the wind! His hands are constantly caressing us, and the earth, holding all of Creation together!
May our God, the Creator of everything seen and unseen, open your eyes to the sacredness of the ordinary. And may your lips utter blessings, and your heart sing songs, from the moment of waking to the moment of sleep… and even within sleep, may your soul be ever in His presence! Amen.