An unfortunate decision was made at the Synod of Whitby in 664. There, two distinct ways of living Christianity came into conflict: the Celtic, originating from the beloved disciple, and the Roman, based on Peter’s authority. As John Philip Newell writes in Listening for the Heartbeat of God (p. 94) “the tragic outcome was not that it chose the Roman mission,” but that it didn’t make room for both ways of seeing, both firmly rooted in the gospel. Christianity needn’t be limited to a single perspective when it can interweave such rich approaches.
The Petrine tradition looks for God in the teaching and life of the Church. The Celtic stream finds God in creation, seeing all life as sacramental. An imaginative blending of the two might look a bit like this:
The beatitude of the blooming magnolia
The canticle of the fountain
The great candelabra of moon and sun
The litany of the bees’ burrowing
The stately procession of river
The call to prayer of fields shining with dew
The candles of ornamental cabbage
The liturgy of the rhythmic waves and tides
The exultation of pink bud against blue sky
The children’s choir of hidden birds
The solid “Amen” of granite mountain.
Retreat led by Kathy Coffey: “Those Feisty Gospel Women”
San Damiano Center, 710 Highland Dr., Danville, CA (925)-837-9141
www.sandamiano.org March 27-29, 2020