Hermitages and Saint Kevin

Recently, I journeyed to Ireland. I spent a couple nights at a hermitage in the Celtic ruins of Glendalough. For a long time now I’ve been drawn to Celtic spirituality, and I decided the best place to learn is to study in context.

Glendalough Hermitage

There are 3 thoughts from Celtic spirituality that have formed me in a new way:

In Celtic spirituality creation and scripture hold equal importance and holiness. Creation speaks to us God’s truths just as the scriptures are God’s words. God communicates to us in both ways. The implication is that we can learn just as much about God from a day in the woods as we do from a day of study.

Eriugena and other Celtic theologians believed that human beings created in the image of God meant not that we are reflections of God, but that we actually carry some of the substance of God in us. One of the implications of such a theology is that when we enjoy life it is an expression of God’s life in us. Philip Newell wrote that every good desire in us is God’s voice and God’s desires (Newell, 70). Spirituality is then a movement towards more of life and not away from life.

Finally, I found the Celtic understanding of pilgrimage to be a fitting description for my next stage of life. The practice of pilgrimage in other Christian and religious traditions always has a destination in mind. A pilgrimage is a journey to a holy site. In the Celtic practice of pilgrimage, however, there is no destination. The Celtic practice of pilgrimage is to wander as the Spirit leads and to stop when one finds her “place of resurrection.”

Newell, Philip. Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality. New York: Paulist Press, 1997.