Whisper of Wisdom

Fresh ways of asking familiar questions resulted in a very satisfying way to spend a cold Saturday in February.  About sixty of us gathered with Padraigin Clancy to experience the ancient wisdom of Celtic spirituality.  It was only one of four different events sponsored by the CSJs through Wisdom Ways to commemorate the feast of the sixth century abbess, Brigid of Ireland.

Four questions posed by Padraigin continue to ruminate and refresh:

Who do you belong with?
Where are your “breathing holes”?
Who blesses you?
Where do you find your center?

Surprises abound when we turn old familiar formulations even a bit.  I was shocked by how I have come to “belong” in numerous cyberspace relationships.  I reclaimed our long-sold family farm and certain trees I have planted as personal places of refreshment, “breathing holes” as it were. Long grateful that my Irish grandmother who died when I was 12 remains a foundational relationship of unconditional love, I was deeply consoled to find my soulmate sister (RIP 2005) and brother-hero (RIP 2013) so present within this enduring embrace of blessing. What or whom I find at my center seems too intimate for words.

The Celtic practice of pilgrimage also seems accessible, practical and affordable!  Rather than a linear journey “from here to there” (as much as I yearn to do the Camino de Santiago), it is the “center” that is important in Celtic spirituality.  A Celtic pilgrim is one who walks around the center – typically, clockwise, seven times (though that feels a bit too prescriptive for the liberating energy we experienced yesterday).  Sacred places, shines and totems abound calling for a deep reverence of sacred space that is tangible and accessible nearby.  I like that!

A prayer by John O’Donohue entitled Matins wonderfully expresses the freshness of what we shared yesterday:

I arise today

In the name of Silence
Womb of the Word,
In the name of Stillness
Home of Belonging,
In the name of the Solitude
Of the Soul and the Earth.

I arise today

Blessed by all things,
Wings of breath,
Delight of eyes,
Wonder of whisper,
Intimacy of touch,
Eternity of soul,
Urgency of thought,
Miracle of health,
Embrace of God.

May I live this day

Compassionate of heart,
Clear in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.

Padraigin Clancy invited us to rest in just a single phrase that especially drew us in, letting it seep gently, deeply into our selves.  “Wonder of whisper” continues to ruminate with me a day later. You may wish to select one that speaks to you and let it warm your heart on this February day.


Cited: To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings by John O’Donohue.  Doubleday, 2008.  p 7-8.

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