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Showing posts from January, 2016


Today’s entry in Ray Simpson’s book, The Celtic Book of Days, is titled, “Unwanted Baby”, and tells the story of Tannoc, the daughter to King Loth of Dunpelder.
The story goes that when Tannoc was a child, her father sent her off to a convent where she gave her life to Christ and excelled in “atmosphere of spiritual and intellectual learning.” Later, when she was 15, her dad offered her in marriage to a Prince Owen of Rheged (gee, thanks, dad). When Tannoc refused, she was exiled. In a shocking display of sexual violence, Owen tracked her down and raped her. Alone and rejected by her family and the convent, a local community of peasant farmers took her in and cared for her.
When Tannoc gave birth to her son, the farmers contacted a neighboring priest who christened the child “Mungo” (meaning “my beloved”) and adopted them both. Saint Mungo became the founder and patron saint of Glasgow.
The reflection Simpson gives talks about carrying “unwanted life” (whether literal or metaphorical) an…


Today’s entry in The Celtic Book of Days, is titled, “The Divine Plan.” In it, Simpson tells two stories about the plans God had for Columba and Samson.
Columba’s mother, Eithne, dreamt that she was given a cloak containing “every color of the rainbow.” A young man in her dream told Eithne that the cloak meant she’ll have a son, “and Ireland and Scotland will be full of his teaching.”
Samson’s father, Amon, didn’t want Samson to follow God’s plan for his life, so he refused to send Samson to a Christian school. But, after a very powerful dream, Amon said to his wife, Anna, “Let’s lose no time in sending our son, rather God’s son, to school, for God’s with him and we ought to do nothing against God.”
I know that I fought God’s plan for my life for a long time. God used others—my Mother, friends, even strangers—and some dark times to get me to quit running from it.  And, honestly, it’s still something that I struggle with. But, the prayer at the end of today’s entry sums up my feelings ver…


Today’s entry in Ray Simpson’s book, The Celtic Book of Days, is titled, “A Nursery of Saints.” Simpson asks us if our “faith communities” are either lifeless museums or life fostering nurseries. He then tells the story of St. Comgall.
It seems the day before his birth, Mac Nisse of Connor exclaimed that a passing carriage carried a future king. However, when the carriage was inspected, all that was found was “Sedna and his pregnant wife Birga.” Mac Nisse, of course, meant the child Birga was carrying—Comgall.
Comgall went on to found the great monastery at Bangor where several thousand monks resided. Their service booklet, The Antiphonary of Bangor, resides in the Ambrosian Library in Milan, and can be viewed online. Simpson gets his title for today’s entry from a comment by Bernard of Clairvaux who described the monastery as “the nursery of saints.”
It seems that what Simpson (and Bernard of Clairvaux) is suggesting that our communities of faith be places that help other followers in t…


I’ve been neglecting my daily reflections of Ray Simpson’s book, The Celtic Book of Days. I’ve been reading them but I haven’t written any reflections. Today, I’m going to combine days 7-10 in one post. So, let’s get started!
Day 7 is titled “Another Way” and it’s filled with poems and prayers about the wisemen’s journey home. These lines really spoke to me—
But journey we, three new-made men, side by side. Came we by old paths by the sands. Go we by new ones this new day…
This captures what happens when someone encounters the Christ. As we begin one way, after encountering the Christ, we have a new way—The Way—to go.  There’s a saying on one of our kitchen cabinets the reflects this sentiment so well—
To meet him is to be penetrated by his love. To know him is to know and love him forever.
The wise men were penetrated by the Love of Christ even though he was a small boy. This changed them forever and started them on a new journey on a new day.
The entry for January 8th is titled, “Strong Lead…


Today’s entry in The Celtic Book of Days, is titled, “Wise Kings on a Long Journey.” And, as one might anticipate, since today’s the Feast of the Epiphany, the entry’s about the Magi and their gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh.
The first gift, the gift of gold, represents wealth. But Simpson notes that the person bringing this gift realized that wealth couldn’t buy the most important things in life “love, truth, eternity;” that it can’t “fill the heart.” And so, humbly, it’s given to the Holy Family.
The second gift, the gift of incense, represents the rituals of religion and scholarship. And while these thing can be good, too, they can often leave one empty and unfulfilled. They can represent cold repetition and logic, and lose their sense of mystery. When this gift was given, the person recognized all ritual should lead to a sense of “wonder at the smallest things, and all life becomes a sign of God’s Presence.”
The final gift, the gift of myrrh, Simpson explains, was used in burial ri…


Today’s entry in The Celtic Book of Days, is titled, “The Aidan Way Ahead.” For those of you who might be unfamiliar with Saint Aidan, here’s a brief summary from Wikipedia:
Aidan of Lindisfarne (died 31 August 651) was an Irish monk and missionary credited with restoring Christianity to Northumbria. He founded a monastic cathedral on the island of Lindisfarne, served as its first bishop, and travelled ceaselessly throughout the countryside, spreading the gospel to both the Anglo-Saxon nobility and to the socially disenfranchised (including children and slaves).
He’s known as the Apostle of Northumbria and is recognized as a saint by the Anglican Communion, the Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and others.

There’s a statue of Saint Aidan on the island of Lindisfarne. Simpson points out four things that may help us moving forward into the new year: his face, his torch, his staff, and the Celtic cross behind him.
According to Simpson, Saint Aidan’s face looks to “regions that had …


Today’s entry in The Celtic Book of Days is titled “On the Move for God” and continues with the idea of wandering or walking with God; of being a pilgrim. I have to admit that the idea of being a “pilgrim”—that somehow this world isn’t our home—really bothers me. From what I can gather, it comes from two misunderstandings—that “heaven” is our real home and an unrealized eschatology. I would like to quickly address these in reverse order.
As most of you are aware, I’ve written a series about eschatology (the “end times”; the first article’s here) and, to put it bluntly, it’s not what we think it means. The “pilgrim” imagery we have in the New Testament (most notably those given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 10), is not about “going to heaven”; it’s about the change of covenants. It deals with the transition between the full completion of the Old Covenant (that was still going on during the New Testament time; Hebrews 8) and the full establishment of the New Covenant. Thus, the followers of J…


Today’s entry in Ray Simpson’s book, The Celtic Book of Days, is a quotation from Columba: A Play with Music by Juliet Boobbyer & Joanna Sciortino; music composed by Elaine Gordon. In the quoted section, Simpson emphasises walking with God “into the great unknown.” Here’s the opening stanza:
Home is not a place, it's a road to be traveled, we say, our only defense is the armor of God, with the Gospel of Peace our feet are shod; so alone, alone, we walk into the great unknown.
The verses continue with this theme of wearing God’s armor and walking into the great unknown. Here’s the closing stanza:
The seed of God's love in the hearts of folk we sow; and stronger and taller that seed will grow, that all creation the truth may know; then alone, alone, it will conquer the great unknown.
Here we see that truth of the Gospel (God’s Love)—it will grow “stronger and taller” until all creation is infused with God’s Love, “conquer[ing]” all of the “unknown” things that oppose it. Here I take “co…


Today’s entry in Ray Simpson’s book, The Celtic Book of Days, talks about Saint Samson. I’m no expert on Samson (I’ll leave that to Amma Beth+ from the Lindisfarne Community), but it seems the only date we’re fairly certain of is Samson’s ordination as a bishop on February 22 in 521 CE. According to Simpson, Samson arrived in Guernsey in the 5th century during the celebration of the New Year which was celebrated “according to a vile custom” of their ancestors. According to his biographer, Samson made friends with the islanders, “exuding a spirit of love, not judgement.” Gathering everyone together in one place, Samson started a conversation with the islanders about the emptiness of some of their customs. Because of Samson’s love for them, God began to open the eyes of the people.
Simpson tells us, “[Samson’s] method was one of meeting, not denunciation. Confronted by his dedicated love, the people’s hardness melted away. They threw away all that was empty, and the customs of generation…

Gillette Safety Razor

I’ve been using a double-edge (DE) safety razor for about a year and a half and have gotten the best shaves with it. For those of you who don’t know, a DE safety razor is one of those metal razors with a razor blade in it. Think about the razor your Grandpa used to use.

No, not the straight razor; the other one.

Yeah, that’s the one.
Recently, I’ve been seeing older razors. Razors that were the “originals” and were refurbished. Razor Emporium is a company that will actually makes your old DE razor look like new. And that got me searching. I wanted to find a Gillette razor that was produced in 1965, the year I was born. Well, I found one! And I got it for Christmas!

Here it is!

As you can see from this (out of focus) image above, the head of this razor looks quite differently from the image of the Maggard razor posted above.

A lot of razors come in two or three pieces (Maggard’s are 3 piece razors). But the Gillette 1965 is a twist-to-open (TTO) or “butteryfly” razor.

All you do is turn