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Posts Tagged ‘Celtic’

Now and then, I believe God gives us gentle nudges to tell us it’s time to care for ourselves, to replenish what has been depleted within us, either by giving out too much for too long in one way or another or by plain neglect. As a writer, I have discovered I can keep on writing and writing and editing and editing for a very long time, along with popping up to speak on occasions, before I listen to that voice telling me I need to take time out to reorientate myself to that strong, loving presence of God in me, around me, above me and beneath me.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to do just that. I took myself off to a retreat centre not far away from where I live, where around thirty other men and women had gathered for much the same purpose. Most were strangers to me, but as we were told that first evening together, ‘there can be no strangers among us – only friends we have not yet met.’ And God was very present among us.

The weekend focused on the ancient Celtic Christian ways of worship and of connecting with God and one another. We received input from our warm, gentle speakers. We had inspired poetry read to us. We listened to beautiful music played by a world-renowned ‘harper’ (not ‘harpist’, we discovered) on her Celtic harp. We heard the stories behind the music. We even joined hands in a large circle and danced together – slow, ancient dances that enabled us to intercede for the world and the church and to express our unity. We prayed together aloud in words – ancient, simple but profound prayers of the heart. We were nourished by the beauty of a creative arrangement of swirling cloth, candles of varying sizes and interesting items gathered from nature as we sat together. We were given opportunities to be creative ourselves, with coloured pencils and pastels and paper. We ate excellent food, chatting around small tables in a lovely dining room – and once without speaking at all. We sat eating chocolates and drinking mulled wine together one evening (!), as we listened to the music of the Celtic harp. But best of all, we were given opportunity for periods of silence, which we could spend either sitting somewhere in the beautiful, extensive grounds of the retreat centre, in one of the cosy corners of the building, in the chapel or in our own warm rooms.

Our souls were nourished by God in so many ways. At the end, we each shared words that for us encapsulated our time together –  words such as ‘loved’, ‘homecoming’, ‘child of God’, ‘restful landing’, ‘cherished’, ‘peace’, ‘acceptance’. For me, the weekend encapsulated all of these and more. And it showed me yet again the importance of spending time in solitude and silence to hear those words God wants to speak into our spirits, of caring for ourselves so we can best live for God in this world, of opening our hearts to see and be thankful that we belong to an amazingly loving, creative, caring, all-powerful God.

So this day, may you know the loving presence of God within you, around you, above you, beneath you. And, in the words of a traditional Gaelic blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

the rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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Tapestry--Eric WardropLast week I was blown away when I answered my doorbell one day to be handed a cylinder that I soon discovered contained a very special gift – the exquisitely worked tapestry pictured here.

This gift is special for several reasons.  Firstly, it came from a cousin, with thanks for my novels and in recognition of the time and effort I put into writing them.  Secondly, the tapestry is beautifully done and must have taken hours and hours to complete – just as my novels do.  Thirdly, it was accompanied by a monetary gift to cover the cost of having the tapestry well framed. Fourthly, my cousin could not have known that I am currently in the process of redecorating our daughter’s old bedroom and fitting it out as my study – a place of my own in which to write and where I can have beautiful things around me such as this tapestry to uplift my spirit.  Fifthly, my cousin could also not have known that I had just finished preparing a talk that included a quote from the writer Madeleine L’Engle on the place of listening in both writing and praying – nor that I already have a framed card near where I now write, featuring another Emerson quotation that says:

To accomplish excellence or anything outstanding, you must listen to that whisper which is heard by you alone.

How could the grace of God not touch my heart through all of this?  Surely the kindness and care and effort behind the gift itself, as well as its appropriateness and even the timing of its arrival, have all the hallmarks of a God who gives lavishly and lovingly?  Yet it’s more than this too.  As I admired the creativity displayed in my beautiful gift, I thought again of how this in itself speaks of God, the Almighty Creator of the Universe, who chose to impart something of this creativity to each one of us, children made in his image (Genesis 1:27).  All of us seem to long to be creative in some shape or form, whether it be via tapestry, painting, writing, gardening, knitting, designing, baking – the list is endless.  And for many of us, the desire, whether conscious or subconscious, to mirror something of our Creator to the world is very strong.  Recently a friend told me of a relative’s passion for photography, of recording as faithfully and as artistically as he can the incredible beauty of our own land in a way that will open our hearts afresh in praise to God.  And after perusing his website and being spellbound, I believe he achieves exactly that (see www.davidstowe.com.au).

So how about you?  Look around!  See and marvel at the work of our Creator, both in nature and through those made in his image!  And listen too, to that whisper of God that may well stir your own creative spirit to fashion something that will bless others in ways you might never imagine!

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