Every Earthly Blessing

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Uncover the history and meaning of Celtic traditions, poetry, songs, and spirituality, in a captivating and comprehensive journey through Ireland.
 
The beauty of the Emerald Isle has always enchanted the world: the ancient ruins, the rolling green hills, the intricately carved crosses in historic graveyards. But the lure of Celtic tradition is more than just the trappings that draw tourists each year—its riches go far deeper and to far more intriguing roots.
 
In Every Earthly Blessing, Esther de Waal takes an intimate and carefully researched look at early Celtic practices and spirituality and their connections to modern Christianity. Her exploration guides readers through every element of Celtic heritage: from songs and poetry, to viewpoints on solitude and pilgrimage, to perspectives on sorrow and healing. Avoiding sentimentalism and romanticism, de Waal casts a keen eye on a culture that has defined the lives and beliefs of so many throughout history—and continues to influence us today.
 
Whether enjoyed in solitude or discussed with friends and family, this is a fascinating and enlightening read guaranteed to spark introspection and conversation.

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Publié par
Date de parution 01 juillet 1999
Nombre de visites sur la page 3
EAN13 9780819225160
Langue English

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ESTHER DE WAAL is an Anglican lay woman with four sons and increa sing numbers of grandchildren. She has returned to live on the Wels h borders where she grew uB and sBends her time gardening and writing, traveling an d taking retreats. She studied history at Cambridge and later develoBed a sBecial interest in the visual aBBroach through landscaBe and buildings.
She became interested in enedictine monasticism as a result of living for ten years in Canterbury and in 1984 wroteSeeking God: The Way of St Benedict(Liturgical Press), which has since become internationally know n. She followed this withA Life-Giving Way(Liturgical Press), a commentary for lay BeoBle on the Rule, andhiving with Contradiction: Reflections on the Benedictine Way(Morehouse Publishing, 1998).A Seven Day Journey with Thomas Merton(Servant Publications) is a book for use in a Brivate retreat. Her latest,The Way of Simplicity(Orbis, 1998), is an exBloration of the Cistercian tradition and its relevance for today.
Her Celtic Bublications includeThe Celtic Way of Prayer(Doubleday) and she has e d i t e dThe Celtic Vision, Prayers and Blessings from the C armina Gadelica(St. e d e 's );Beasts and Saints(Eerdm an);Prayer and Praises in the Celtic Tradition (TemBlegate); andGod Under My Roof(Paraclete).
Copyright © 1991 by Esther de Waal First published in Great Britain by Fount Paperback s, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Published in 1999 by Morehouse Publishing Harrisburg, PA 17105 Morehouse Publishing is a division of The Morehouse Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be re produced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, includin g photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, witho ut written permission from the publisher.
Cover design: Corey Kent
Cover photograph: St. John's Cross on the Isle of Iona, ©CORBIS/Michael Nicholson
Note: A study guide for this book is available on the Internet at www.morehousegroup.com.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
de Waal, Esther. [World made whole] Every earthly blessing: rediscovering the Celtic tradition / Esther de Waal.  p. cm. Originally published: A world made whole. London: F ount, 1991.With a new pref. Includes bibliographical references. ISBN: 0-8192-1806-5 ISBN-13: 978-0-8192-1806-3 (pbk.) ISBN-13: 978-0-8192-2516-0 (E-book)  I.Celts—Religion. I.Title. [BR737.C4D48 1999] 270'.089'916—dc21
CIP
99-20291
For Hiroe
my grandson who belongs to two worlds
Contents
Introductory Note
Preface 1999
Preface to the First Edition
God's World
I. THE DEDICATED LIFE
Monks and Hermits
Pilgrims and Exiles
II. THE CELEBRATION OF CREATION
The Universe
Common Creation
Healing
III. THE LIGHT AND THE DARK
Sin and Sorrow
Salvation
The Cross
A World Made Whole
Introductory Note
I HAVE WRITTEN this book with one purpose and one hope, and that is that it will encourage others to discover for themselves some of the riches that I have myself found in the Celtic tradition. It has not been easy to write, for much of the material was available only in scholarly editions or learned jou rnals where the emphasis was antiquarian, linguistic or ethnographical, but show ed little concern for how it might relate to Christian understanding or make a contrib ution to daily life. I have tried to avoid two extremes, on the one hand making it so ac ademic that it appears remote and irrelevant, and on the other hand reading into it w hat we want to find. While I have tried to remain true to the original material I hope that I have managed to present it in a way that will enable the readers to encounter it, and e ngage with it for themselves, so that it becomes life-giving on their own Christian journey. That is the reason that I have given comparatively little historical background or conte xt. The notes and references are included for those readers who want to pursue the s ubject further, but the book can just as well be read without them. My concern has rather been to present the subject in terms of a succession of themes with which readers can identify from their own experience. Here is the Celtic way of seeing the wo rld. It cannot be understood only in cerebral terms; it speaks to the heart, it is close r to poetry, and, like poetry, it must remain ultimately elusive.
You can come in You can come a long way... But you won't be inside.
These lines from R. S.Thomas, the contemporary Wels h poet, are a very salutary warning about believing that we can ever actually r eally know, understand, let alone possess another world. While we welcome the Celts a s brothers and sisters we do them a disservice if we allow ourselves to forget t hat the saints and hermits, the ordinary men and women who figure in these pages ar e also strangers. We stand on the fringe of their world, grateful for what we can see, but we must never forget that it is ultimately mystery, to be handled with reverence.
Many places and many people have contributed to the making of this book. I owe much to conversations with the Rev. Canon A. M. All chin, the Rev. and Mrs. Saunders Davies, and the Rev. James Courts. Sr. Barbara M. M . M. first took me to Monasterboice and other places in Ireland. I have c orresponded with many people whose names I shall not attempt to enumerate. Chris tine Whitell of Marshall Pickering, who first suggested this book, has been a constant source of encouragement. But one person in particular has haunted me while I have be en writing this book and that is Nora Chadwick. Many years ago, long before I was se riously interested in things Celtic, I lived in her house in Cambridge, and I have often thought of her since, with her books and her harps, and her quiet, profound, scholarly p resence. Something that she wrote explaining her dedication to the subject has remain ed with me, and I make it my own apologia too. “Shall I confess the truth? I have ch osen it because of its lasting beauty.”
Cwm Cottage Rowlestone Pontrilas Herefordshire
8th July 1990
Preface 1999
THE REISSUE OF this book gives me the opportunity to reflect on t he continuing role of Celtic spirituality in my own life, and it is clear also in great numbers of people like myself who are finding here something that brings a refreshing and invigorating dimension to the Christian life. In this small cott age where I now live in the Welsh border country, I am surrounded by the Celtic past with holy wells, ancient churches, the sites of hermit cells. Even the hill which over looks the kitchen in which I am sitting as I write this is called the Hill of the Seraphim. But even for those who are geographically distant, with the Atlantic ocean a b arrier, the internal landscape of the Celtic tradition can be equally powerful. Here we a re given the opportunity to return to our roots, to come home to something that many of u s find totally natural. For those who are wearied by the institutional church, and are looking elsewhere for whatever will help to make our praying a natural part of living, take us beyond words and nourish our imaginations, and above all bring us a contemplativ e vision, the Celtic way opens many doors. In recent years Celtic pilgrimages have beco me extraordinarily popular, a reflection beyond any immediate geographical or phy sical reality of that interior journey which is inescapable and on which we are always see king those fellow-travelers who will accompany us and bring us the wisdom of their own experience. The Celtic world was harsh and often cruel. It is important not to r omanticize it. Oppression, loss, insecurity were written into Celtic history. It is just because these were men and women who knew suffering, who knew the dark as well as th e light, who prayed with tears, that we can turn to them in all the pain and disfigureme nt, inflicted not only on the earth but on so many of its people today. Their message is ne ver any easy optimism, yet when they speak of hope against hope, and of a continuin g gratitude to a God who continues to shower us with blessing, I think we should pay a ttention.
All the excitement of the rediscovery in recent yea rs of the riches of the Celtic tradition has led to an outpouring of writing, some of it excellent (above all in the scholarly translations of texts hitherto inaccessib le) but also, unfortunately, to large numbers of facile and superficial studies looking b ack longingly to a Celtic church which never existed. For there was never any church set apart from the Roman: the real value for us looking back is to see the way in which the Celtic world was ready to accept diversity and difference. Their ideal was un ity without uniformity. They held fast to a love of Rome and a veneration for the city of St. Peter and St. Paul, and there was never the slightest idea that they were in any way separate or separated. Relationships were vital in a society based on kin and the extend ed family, and that included the earth itself, and the wild creatures. Any failure t o recognize this is a failure to do justice to what is perhaps their greatest gift to us: the a bility to hold things together. “Let Gaul contain us side by side, as the kingdom of Heaven s hall contain,” said St. Columbanus to a bishop in Gaul. This gives us a message, a vis ion, not only for our personal discipleship but also for the church and the societ y in which we live: the importance of those right relationships that will bring harmony a nd unity. There is, therefore, also something prophetic in the Celtic tradition. It rec alls us to a set of values which a polarized society and a polarized church is neglect ing: the commitment to forge right relationships, both between peoples themselves and between people and the earth. We also know that this will never be possible while we are ourselves torn apart, and it is that interior holding together within ourselves of the pain and the celebration, the dark and the light, for which above all we turn with gra titude to the Celtic past.