Modern science tells us with ever increasing clarity that all of Creation is in continuous, rhythmic, and beautiful dialogue. Animals, plants, the Earth, and the entire cosmos all have language of sorts, and all aspects of creation form and reform within that dialogue. One of the incredible aspects of being a human creature is that we have developed to not only communicate and think, but also to think about our thinking. In other words, we are conscious of our own selves. We may be the only part of Creation, at least that which is manifest on this planet, that can consider the meaning of our communications and thoughts. And as such, we give greater attention and weight to certain kinds of words and thoughts. We deem particular kinds of language and text as lofty, wise, or even inspired by the Creator. Our Western spiritual traditions tend to categorize things as either sacred or secular, and thus, certain texts are set aside as particularly holy or sacred and followed often uncritically.
The ancient and modern Celtic Christians did not separate matter and words into sacred and secular categories. They saw all things and all expressions of the soul as manifestations of God’s beauty, wisdom, creativity, and love. The song of a bird or the seemingly quiet presence of a tree were revelations of God just as any text could also be a place within which we meet the Divine presence. That is not to say that they did not have particular texts, such as the Jewish and Christian scriptures, that they held as important and unique manifestations of God’s “Word”. They studied and encountered these texts diligently and skillfully and often with great artistry.
Sadly, and even tragically, our western church culture has done terrible damage to the Spirit’s movement in and through sacred texts by turning the texts into idols to be worshiped and controlled instead of an always unfolding invitation to encounter the Spirit of God through the text and to be transformed as the Spirit within ourselves encounters the Spirit that holds up the words. Thus, we are drawn into new, creative, and loving ways toward deeper union with God. The Western tradition, which often sees texts as static, unchanging, controllable, and to be interpreted literally, has all but ceased to be able to invite current culture to encounter God in new and redemptive ways. This authoritarian and controlled approach to text has played a significant role in ignoring our failures toward one another and Earth. Thankfully, the old ways of the Celts provide a fresh and paradoxically ancient way of approaching text to allow it to speak powerfully and creatively to our parched souls and our habit of damaging our relationship with one another and with our planet. May we allow the Celtic imagination and skills in reading sacred text, as well as all texts, to transform us and enliven our hearts, minds, and souls.
Join us for a day to consider the Celtic way of reading texts for encounter with the Great Spirit of Christ through words. We will consider how to approach texts of Scripture as well as other written forms to gather meaning on different levels of understanding and not stop at a singular, Western, and rational interpretation that has ceased to inspire the human spirit. We will open our eyes to see concrete, symbolic, and imaginative possibilities in the words. We will apply what we are learning to texts from the Bible, poems, and oral language. And we will also consider the great revelation of God through Nature as a wise teacher of how to be in life-giving relationship with the revealed God.
Our work will be guided by ancient Celtic wisdom, contemplative Christian understandings and practices, and wisdom from mystical traditions around the world. The time will include teaching, discussion, moments of quiet contemplation, enjoyment of Nature, a labyrinth walk, and lunch together. We will meet from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at Willow Springs Retreat in Edmonds, WA. The cost is $175 which includes the price of the retreat, enjoyment of two beautiful gardens and lunch. You are whole-heartedly welcome to join us. Email Kirk Webb to sign up for “Word” and you will receive information about registration and payment. And for each person that you invite who attends the seminar, you will receive $50 off of your registration fee.