Christianity, when it first came from the East, looked very different than after it became the religion of Imperial Rome. The Celtic lands were able to keep the heart of Eastern Christianity and today we are being called to remember, to harken back to what has been lost, what is true inside us.
First, and most importantly we need to remember that God’s light is resident in every person and everything God created. It’s there, in everyone. There is no original sin, but original blessing. You can’t hold a newborn and not see that.
The indigenous peoples understood this, and what a difference it would have made to them if the missionaries that came to their land had looked for God’s light in them! This God wisdom is resident in nature as well, another thing our indigenous brothers and sisters understand. Not that trees are God (we are not talking about Pantheism), but that God can speak to us through trees, or birds, or grass because God is in everything (Pan-en-theism).
Western imperialism seeks to dominate, claim, and subdue the land, leaving it blind to God within the land and its inhabitants. Now more than ever we need to remember, the land is ours to cherish and care for.
So, as we approach another difficult year, what can we do to begin looking for God’s light in everyone? How can we learn to listen to it in ourselves?
First, we need to reorient ourselves toward the light and remember. The Celtic view of “sin” is that God, through the Spirit, is calling us back to our true selves. The light might have been dulled by our choices or circumstances. We need to dust it off, listen, and respond.
The Celts believe that God does not reside in buildings but everywhere. Yet, gathering with likeminded people is important. There are two Bibles in Celtic thought, a big one (Nature, where we meet God) and a small one (The Bible we read, which instructs us in the way of Christ). So, meeting with likeminded people gives us courage to be the light in this hurting world. If church doesn’t work for you, find or create a small group of folks to be your support.
The Celts believed in a balance of feminine and masculine. We have become unbalanced in our patriarchal Roman western faith traditions. And sex, which was made by God to be a beautiful expression of love, is redefined as a value of celibacy or in marriage, “only for procreation.” We have lost balance in so many ways. Perhaps reading a book on female spirituality would be helpful. Or meeting with someone who expresses their sexuality or gender in a way you don’t understand, and listening well to them. Or meeting with someone on the opposite side of the political aisle and looking for the God light in them.
If you want to learn more about the Celtic way, I recommend any book by John Philip Newell. His new book, Sacred Earth Sacred Soul: Celtic Wisdom for Reawakening to What Our Souls Know and Healing the World, is FANTASTIC.
On a personal note, I retired from my counseling practice last week! Thirty years after receiving my Marriage and Family degree, I’m laying it down. But I really want to press into this idea of looking for the light, being the light, and listening to the light within. I’d love to hear how you respond to these ideas. When I first heard them, I felt like I had finally found my people, but you may have a different response.
My word for the New Year is “be.” I look forward to slowing down, reading, writing, and loving folks well. Happy New Year to you all.
Photo of light in tree by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Photo of girl by Masha Raymers on Pexels.com