The Celtic Way of Prayer Conversation Page

Chapter 2: Image and Song

We explored this chapter about everyday ritual and prayer in the home. The de Waal book focuses on praying throughout the day and for every-day events, while the Painter book (which I’m using as a resource) focuses on blessing – the practice of blessing each moment. Blessing is a type of prayer, so they’re not so very different. I invite you to try the spiritual practice below (no pressure – only if you feel called to it!) and reflect on it in the comment section or at the next meeting.

Spiritual Practice of Blessing Each Moment (inspired from the book The Soul’s Slow Ripening)

In both Celtic and other traditions (such as Judaism) it is a practice to bless all sorts of encounters and times of day, such as when waking, crossing a threshold, eating a meal, or lighting a candle. This isn’t a foreign concept in our tradition, either. Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawerence describes a similar practice in a monastic setting. What if every task, small or large, were consecrated as we move throughout the day – waking, making coffee, getting in the car to leave the driveway, arriving at our destination safely, errands, jobs, tasks, meals, even things we do not want to do like laundry or dishes! This constant blessing is really a form of mindfulness, it’s a noticing, paying attention.

Try moving through your day noticing things to bless from moment to moment. Like in meditation when we have to constantly come back to the breath or let a thought go, we will go hours without remembering to bless the moment. But how special will those moments be when we Do remember! I plan to make a habit of blessing certain things – not everything- so that those things become a routine, a habit for me. I do not plan to beat myself up when I forget. I’ll just try to remember the next time. How might you try to incorporate blessing or prayer into the fabric of your daily life?

I look forward to your stories and insights! I will be back with you on June 22. In the meantime, Katherine will lead the group.

More on The Practice of Perigrinatio

Yesterday we read the short story of St. Brendan from the book Praying with the Celtic Saints by Mary Earle and Sylvia Maddox. Of course a lovely and lively conversation followed.

HOMEWORK: Re-read pages 18-27. We will discuss the prayer of St. Patrick next time. Read chapter 2 Image and Song. It’s short! Katherine will send a link for the class next week and facilitate. I will not be there next week.

Wandering Walk: I invite you to go on a wandering walk this week if you didn’t get a chance last week due to rain. Follow the instructions in last week’s post.

Abe’s question about if Celtic Christianity is still practiced as something separate from the Christianity we know, and when/where did that start and end spurred a lot of interest. We should continue to talk about this here on this page and in our group. Here are two resources that Lynda and Deborah sent to me. Enjoy and comment below!

Deborah’s Link from Wikipedia

Lynda’s Link to the chapter that Nancy mentioned yesterday from Listening to the Heartbeat of God. The chapter is called Two Ways of Listening, John and Peter,

The Practice of Perigrinatio or Wandering

Hello! This is our Tuesday 5-6 pm group conversation page. This is where I will post reflection questions, writing prompts, and spiritual exercises associated with our exploration of Celtic spirituality. I like thinking of this as a journey. And as this is the Celtic way, we don’t really know where our wanderings will lead us. But we are on this path for the love of God seeking our place of resurrection. Christine Valters Painter in her book The Soul’s Slow Ripening describes perigrinatio, or wandering, like this:

“For the Celtic monastic tradition, wandering was a powerful practice, shaping much of their vision of Christian spiritual life. There is a unique term for this Celtic wandering – peregrinatio pro christo – the call to wander for the love of Christ….The impulse for the journeys was always love. in this profound practice, God becomes both destination and way, companion and guiding force. God is in the call to the journey and the unfolding of the journey and God greets us at the journey’s end. The goal of this wandering is always to find the place of our resurrection, the place where our gifts can be brought fully to life for the rest of our days.”

Optional Journaling Exercise

I invite you to reflect here on the passage above. What does it look like in your life to seek your place of resurrection? When in your life have you been on a peregrinatio – you may not have thought of it like that at the time, but looking back you can see that you were wondering. You can add comments in the comment section. This page is private. No one can see it without the link that I sent you.

Optional Spiritual Practice This Week (from The Soul’s Slow Ripening)

Follow the Thread Through Photography: Follow the Thread means to listen to the synchronicities and patterns being revealed in our daily lives. It is a practice that increases our self-awareness and helps us tend to our inner impulses and aliveness. It helps us become aware of where we are being led on this wandering journey.

Instructions: Go for a contemplative walk this week (could just be around your yard or in a park or around your neighborhood) with your camera in hand. Center yourself at the beginning. Let your walk be an experience of peregrinatio. As you walk, look for signs that move you forward and signs that ask you to rest, photographing along the way. See if you can experience the spirit leading you on your wandering. Pay attention to images that call out to you. Ponder these images for a time. Let your camera be a window into deeper seeing. When you get home, select 3-4 images. In a journal write from the perspective of the image using first person language. “I am…” Then, as you look at your images in sequence, what story do they want to tell? How is this walking and storytelling a form of peregrinatio for you?

I encourage you to share your observations on this page in the comment section so that people who cannot attend the Zoom meeting can participate in the discussion. We will also discuss our walks at next Tuesday’s meeting. Happy wandering!!

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. Paula Starche

    Underlying Purpose

    “Be Christ this day my strong protector:
    against poison and burning
    against drowning and wounding,
    through reward wide and plenty…”

    “May every path before me be smooth, man, woman
    and child welcome me.
    A truly good journey! Well does the fair Lord show
    us a course, a path.”

    I took two walks this week in which I used the prompt Rebecca suggested. The first was in San Antonio walking a loop on the Mission Trail, past Mission San Juan. We go there often and frankly with our walks, I am often looking forward to the end. With this walk, I took pictures and stopped with purpose to look at birds. We saw indigo buntings and a yellow crowned night-heron among a few others. I stopped to take pictures of the flowers and the water flows. I asked God what she wanted me to hear, how to listen. I thought back to the most recent spiritual discussions I had listened in to. I became aware of some falsehoods I had told myself (“not pretty, getting frail, no business sense, memory problems”) I thought with gratitude how ready our community is to share burdens with each other. I was aware and grateful for the miracles of the week: another person I just happened to call for an unrelated reason headed me to a solution I had been circling all week. My Fitbit tells me how I sleep every night. If I meditate before bed (but, but, but…) I spend more time in deep sleep and have done that more consistently this week. I read something this week that said the brain is cleansed during deep sleep (reducing the chance of Alzheimer’s). My pulmonary doctor says the lymph in my lungs is stimulated by exercise to clean them. Exercise I do very regularly, so adding contemplation more often to it is appealing.

    So enough about me. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

    (Other quotes from the chapter: “The monastic life has always been about continual conversion. …This journey will be costly. …the really significant journey is the interior journey. ..And if the journey is undertaken for the love of Christ, then it argues that Christ must already hold a place in our lives. …For from every land there is a way to the kingdom of Heaven. ‘The haven of thy resurrection.’ …The path I walk, Christ walks it. …grounded in the reality of being at home in one’s own self and in the world. …I need to remember that in all of this there is a sense of underlying purpose.”—-This is not to say that there aren’t quotes that do not speak to me.)


    1. theabbey

      Thank you for your beautiful reflections! I love the list of quotes that spoke to you and the prayer you shared at the beginning.

  2. Paul Tatum

    “Not all who wonder are lost”

  3. Diane Davis

    Thank you Paula . I also have lung problems and find that many times the best thing about a walk is that it is over! Consequently, my attempt at a perengrinatio kind of walk was mostly perfunctory. I tried to fit it into the pause between downpours and my physical limitations. It wasn’t until I was back home that I realized I had been checking off the walk on an imaginary to-do list in my head. I had to laugh at how un-perengriatio that is.

    Perhaps more congruently with the Celtic way are my attempts to journey with God towards my own death. The older I get, the more important this becomes. The journey feels like a “voluntary exile” from all that I thought I knew about living. It seems there are many things that have to die in my journey – such as notions of what is so absolutely important, preoccupations with looking good (smart, useful, normal), ties to certain people, possessions, and kitties. As I attempt to shed the narrative of my life that no longer serves, I feel afraid and liberated at the same time. Something like putting myself in a boat in the ocean with no oars. What’s left is me and God.

    I take comfort in the words of St. Columbanus that “the end of the road is the end of our life, the end of our roadway is our home.” I imagine those old monks setting out on their journeys to anywhere feeling afraid and liberated just like I am. They are teaching me how to stay alive to “the haven of thy resurrection” wherever I may find it as long as I am open to receive.

    1. theabbey

      Thank you for this sharing. I think the way you understand perigrinatio is the deepest level there is. The walk is just a metaphor, really, to help us (eventually) get to the point.

  4. Blair Liles

    I am so grateful and inspired by what you have shared Paula and Diane. Rebecca thank you for creating this space for additional community sharing.

  5. Ellen Jockusch

    Blair, I am likewise inspired by what Paula and Diane shared in their writing.

    All over again today I am awash in gratitude for the opportunity to wander with all of you on a never-ending journey both with and toward God.

  6. Paula Starche

    Hello to all, I wrote this earlier in the car today and it all got lost as I tried to post it!
    After reading Chapter Two of this book I am completely in!
    I appreciate the references to fire (a child “was handed to and fro across the fire three times…”)
    I am particularly inspired by the prayer on page 30. (Without malice, without jealousy, without envy,
    Without fear, without terror of any one under the sun.”) An adult niece told me this past week that she was noticing almost all adults in her life seemed to feel some envy and jealousy around her, and that she was aware of these feelings in herself as well. These difficult feelings certainly resonate with me and I believe they are (almost) universal. “How well I know these thoughts and how destructive they can be, encouraging me to become competitive and comparative, destroying the thoughts of gratitude and thanksgiving which I know only too well are life-giving.”

    “…there must be the kindling of an inner fire that mirrors this external fire. This fire, or brightness of love will shine out to all…” That is at least a partial answer to the question that came up for me in Chapter One: what is my “underlying purpose”? For the “brightness of love to shine out to all” lands high on my list of possibilities.

    I’m hoping the poet inside of me in the past will be rekindled through our peregrinatio.

    Looking forward to your shares.


  7. Diane Davis

    Imagining A Woman’s Prayer for Protection Along the Lines of St. Patrick

    For my shield this day I call:

    The breath of God
    The mystery of the Trinity
    The love of Christ

    For my shield this day I call:

    All angels
    All powers that witness
    The courageous deeds of women
    Hidden to all eyes
    But the eyes of heaven

    For my shield this day I call:

    First birdsong in the morning
    First breath of clean air
    Sun that ripens the garden
    Moon that stills the night
    Rocks that hold me steady
    Winds that move me
    Water cleansing
    Fire creating.

    This day I call on:

    God’s eyes to see me so I may see others,
    God’s ears to hear me so I may hear others,
    God’s path to guide me to the next right thing,
    God’s shield to protect me when I serve others,
    God’s grace to humble me when others serve me,
    God’s power to sustain the light I have yet to give.

    Around me I gather:

    All the godly forces, felt and unfelt
    All the beauty, all the mystery,
    To save me from the evil of others,
    The darkness of my own thoughts,
    The failings of my aging body,
    The false demands for attention,
    My impatience with others.

    Be Christ this day my strong protector

    Against the spells of escaping what is,
    Against the wounding of myself and others
    Against doubt of your powers of protection.
    Christ be in my heart
    Christ be in my heart

    Christ be in my heart.

    1. theabbey

      Wow Diane!! That is a beautiful poem.

  8. Paula

    This is truly amazing, Diane. If you don’t mind, I would love to have it as an email. You have covered so much ground and several lines jump out at me: “The courageous deeds of women hidden to all eyes. …This day I call on God’s eyes to see me so that I may see others.”

  9. Paula

    And many thanks to Deborah and Lynda for the interesting links to Celtic Christianity.

  10. Ellen Jockusch

    Diane, thanks for posting this prayer poem. It is a treasure that I will keep. The refrain of “For my shield this day I call.”

  11. Ellen Jockusch

    At our meeting last week in which we discussed St. Patrick’s Breastplate (chapter 2), I mentioned a hymn that I love from the Episcopal Hymnal, the tune of which is named “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” (page 370 of the 1982 Hymnal.) Here is a YouTube performance of this hymn; it is long (6 minutes), but worth listening to for the lyrics and Celtic-feeling melody:

    1. Paula

      What a beautiful recording, Ellen. Many thanks!

  12. Mary Buzan

    Tremendous, Diane. Eloquent and moving

  13. Katherine


  14. Cate Miller

    I just read through all of this for the first time, and found the contributions enriching and thought-provoking. Thanks to all who have contributed to giving us more points of view to ponder, as well as creating a greater sense of community.

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