Two Ways of Seeing


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        March 27-29, 2020


One response to “Two Ways of Seeing

  1. Thanks, Kathy. In today’s reading from St. Paul–“Do you now know that you are the temple of God”. Wow! All creation speaks of God’s love and presence.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s