hanks be to Thee, O God, that I have risen today, To the rising of this life itself; May it be to Thine own glory, O God of every gift And to the glory of my soul likewise.
This exuberant prayer of greeting the new day with joy and dedication invites us into the immediacy of the Celtic Christian prayer tradition. Celtic prayer is at the heart of Celtic Spirituality. To pray these prayers coming from the Celtic lands of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales one is drawn into the mystery of God’s presence in all things and the joy of expressing that presence in a pattern of praise and blessing. The prayers, passed down from before the 12th century and continuing in the oral tradition today, are like faraway songs that continue to sing in the hearts of all who long for prayer and life to be woven together. My interest in Celtic prayer came at a critical junction in my own spiritual journey. I had just begun to discover the great contemplative writers of the Christian tradition. I loved the call to “be still and know” and the experience of God’s presence in silence and solitude. I looked forward to morning meditations and times of retreats. All this changed, however, when I found myself the mother of two young sons and the coordinator of religious education at our local church. When I’d rise early for prayer, little feet would come running in for breakfast. When I’d arrive early at work for a time of reflection, the telephone would start to ring. Like most people I tended to separate my prayer life from the other parts of my life. I was very far from the wisdom of Thomas Merton who said,
“What I do is live. How I pray is breathe.” It was in this time of struggle and imbalance that a friend offered me a small book of Celtic prayers and praises. There was something in the rhythm of these prayers that reminded me of the rhythm of life. They contain an awareness of God’s presence from the rising to the setting of the sun. Entwined with the reality of living, each action of the day becomes the essence of prayer. The transcendent Holy One is a close companion as one prays: God God God God God God
to to in in in in
enfold me surround me, my speaking, my thinking my sleeping my waking (2)
Celtic ears hear God’s word spoken through the created world. The quiet earth expresses God’s peace. The river proclaims God’s goodness. Like the psalmist, one stands amazed that “the one who made the moon, made us likewise.” The sight of the new moon and the song of the morning lark become occasions of praise for the Lord of each living creature. Many of the Celtic prayers call us to look outside our window and discover the delight of an ordinary landscape transformed with a glimpse of God’s glory. Suddenly the sunset over the soccer field, the cool breeze on the walk to school become reminders that: There is no plant in the ground But is full of God’s virtue. There is no form in the strand But it is full of God’s blessing. There is no life in the sea, There is not creature in the river, continued on page 16
The spiritual formation magazine from the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas