The Celts…again

I read. Like, a lot. Mostly narrative (novels), poetry, and spirituality. But also loads of practical, pastoral fare; the expected manuals of those like me in the craft of soul-shaping. As one who still stands uncomfortably close to the edges of evangelicalism, it is generally expected that I be of the ‘soul-winning’ trade. It’s not as though I’m uninterested as much as I’m…uninspired. The language is so quaint and banal by comparison. Hardly the kind of thing to draw anyone into the kaleidoscopic mystery of the Trinity.

For that, I turn to the Celts. Their muskiness and John the Baptisty daring-do has an almost Homeric quality about it. I revel in their disinterest in the urban diaconates of Rome in favour of the murky oak groves more suited to the thicker material of Desert Fathers-inspired mysticism.

Trust me, I am no expert in any of this. But I can say, without embarrassment, I’m an enthusiast. Living in Edinburgh now since October of 2021 has helped this thirst. My proximity to the mythic environs in which Celtic monasticism was born and from which it traversed the globe is delirious at times.

So, where was I? Oh yes. I read. Like, a lot. A lot of Celtic-related material. Some of it fictional, (as in my first ever Waverley novel of Sir Walter Scott. Highly recommended by the way, although not without copious cheat notes to help guide your way through narrative literally dripping in self-importance and fourth-wall breaks). But, I also love history as well, which is what I’m currently reading.

A more thorough review may well be forthcoming. But, for now, here’s a taste of writing so good it makes me cry, both with the joy of its beauty and in the discouragement that I possess a skill rather quaint and elementary by comparison. Sigh.

For now, just listen to these rigorous but calming waves of literary water lapping on the shores of your imagination.

“The monks who took their curraghs to the Hebrides knew that they sailed along the edge of the world and perhaps they also believed that they were moving along the edge of Heaven.

Seen from the Atlantic shore, silhouetted by the westering sun slowly enveloped in the still, soft air of the gloaming, the Hebrides become metaphors. Beyond these islands of the evening lay the vast wastes of the ocean, and beyond that, the end of the day, the dying of the light, the darkness. But beyond even that, there was hope, the eternal light of Heaven, where the sun warmed the fields and all those who had been saved, and where God smiled and stretched out His hand to bless those who had sailed to the islands in their curraghs and given their lives to Him.”

Good, right?

So then, back to reading and the dream of the world the Celts envisioned, and maybe just…be a part of creating it.

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