Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Sacred Presence Within Ourselves

By Cami Twilling, Director of Contemplative Spirituality

In his book, The Rebirthing of God: Christianity's Struggle for New Beginnings, John Philip Newell writes, “It was on Iona years ago that I first became aware of the need to reclaim some of the features of ancient Christianity in the Celtic world as lost treasure for today. Part of that treasure is the much-cherished image of John the Evangelist, also known as John the Beloved, leaning against Jesus at the Last Supper. Celtic tradition holds that by doing this he heard the heartbeat of God. He became a symbol of the practice of listening—listening deep within ourselves, within one another, and within the body of the earth for the beat of the Sacred Presence.” 

It is when we begin to hear and see the Sacred Presence within ourselves, one another and the earth, we will begin to treat all of creation with reverence. In this reverence and sacredness, healing can begin to take place, wholeness and well-being will unfold. It is true that there is brokenness in our world, yet at the very heart of all creation is the heart of God. We are not separate from God, we are of God. The light of God is within all of creation.

There are many opportunities to explore the teachings of John Philip Newell and the earth honoring Celtic spirituality. Below are ways for you to connect.

School for Celtic Consciousness has both an annual retreat and Quarterly Gathering. The annual retreat blends sessions led by Newell introducing themes of Celtic teachers, his own reflections, contemplative spiritual practices, small group sharing, whole group sharing and time for rest and reflection. The 2017 School for Celtic Consciousness will be held at the Shambhala Mountain Center April 4-5, 2017.

There are also Quarterly Gatherings in which we come together as a community. We share in prayer, scripture reading and chants as we listen for wisdom, seek strength and practice silence. We continue in community by gathering for light refreshments and conversation following the service. Our next Quarterly Gathering will be Friday, November 18 from 7-9pm at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. All are welcome for this evening of prayer and shared community.

Our Pilgrimage to Iona, Scotland, is another opportunity to deeply engage in Celtic Spirituality. ‘Each day on Iona begins and ends with the rhythm of prayer and meditation together, either at the Abbey or elsewhere on the island. In the mornings John Philip Newell teaches on themes related to the sacredness of the earth, interfaith relationship, and commitment to practices of contemplation and action as the basis for transformation in our lives and world. The afternoons are given to hiking, conversation, and rest, and the early evenings to further reflection and embodiment practices of chant and meditative movement. On Wednesday we walk the seven-mile island pilgrimage route together to pray for the journey of our lives and world. The Columba Hotel’s organic gardens, eco-friendly policies and welcoming staff are an important part of our community life together.’ You are invited to join us on pilgrimage in the fall of 2017. Registration information is available on Trinity’s website.

John Philip Newell is a poet, peacemaker, and scholar. Formerly a warden of Iona Abbey, he is now Companion Theologian for the American Spirituality Centre of Casa del Sol at Ghost Ranch in the high desert of New Mexico. His PhD is from the University of Edinburgh and he is internationally acclaimed for his work in the field of Celtic spirituality, having authored over 15 books. John Philip is the co-founder of Heartbeat: A Journey Towards Earth’s Wellbeing, and a Church of Scotland minister. He has a passion for peace in the world and a fresh vision for harmony between the great spiritual traditions of humanity.

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