over the summer i have read several books and been sent several books by publishers or friends.
i was delighted to be sent a copy of tess ward's book the celtic wheel of the year: celtic and christian seasonal prayers.
the book is divided into monthly sections with a daily pattern of prayer. it combines the christian seasons with the seasons of the solstices and equinoxes. it draws on celtic themes of the presence of god in all of life and pilgrimage and uses wonderfully poetic language. it's published by o-books which i think is brilliant as it locates this resource in the mind body spirit world rather than the christian subculture. each chapter has a meaty intro on the themes and festivals of that month. it's earthy and british - by which i mean the seasons described may not make much sense if you are in another part of the world. it's also fantastically womanly - it connects strongly with womens spirituality and feminist themes. and i totally mean that as a positive - it's one of the things i love about it.
tess says this about the appeal of celtic christianity today -
the appeal of celtic christianity today is not hard to fathom. even christians more orthodox and patient than myself are wanting to join up the lines much more between their daily lives, creation, their sexuality, their emotional lives, their faith. this inter connectedness between every living thing is of god.
i love it - i think it's one of the most original liturgical books i have seen for a long time. (i think the art of crafting liturgy that is creative and connects with the tradition is quite a rare gift at the moment. we need to cultivate more liturgists and artists in the christian community.) tess manages to find a way with language that connects strongly with the christian tradition but without alienating spiritual seekers by her language. just as an example flicking through the book prayers addressed to god begin with some of the following names...
great artist of the beginning
creator of life
father of all prodigals
spirit of god
inspirer of the universe
source of all
breath of life
lover of my soul
giver of sun and rain
lure of all our longing
substance of our faith
shielder of intimacies
god of surprises
this is actually a great example of contextual mission. i remember reading lamin sanneh on the gospel taking root in countries in africa and he made the point that one of the things about those places was that when the scriptures were translated they used the local/pagan name for god rather than introducing an outside name. i'm not suggesting this is a targeting strategy for tess - it's simply intuitive as she inhabits a world of spiritual seekers, particularly women who are at home in the creation and in their bodies. david tacey in his amazing book the spiritual revolution says that finding a new language is the challenge and tess rises to the challenge.
i am going to use this book for a while to help me pray and see how i get on with it. it's clearly been a huge project. the book is 280 pages long. and i am sure tess has laboured hard to bring it to birth. some of you may have caught tess leading a couple of sessions at greenbelt. sadly i missed them. i really recommend this book - a wonderful gift. thanks tess!