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 Leadership” and focuses on the legend of King Arthur. A lot of us may not realize this but the Arthur legend is steeped in Celtic lore as emphasised in Stephen Lawhead’s book, Arthur.* The point of this entry is that of nations living and leading by the banner of Christ. To be honest, I’m not sure about this. My first thought was, “Which Christ?” There are so many versions based on different views and interpretations of the Bible that I’m not sure I would want to be part of a nation that, for example, believed that “God’s will as her destiny” would be to rule with violence based on their view of Revelation 19.
I think the final prayer sums up my thoughts on this quite well—
Lord, give us that inner dynamic that calls out and combines
the moral and spiritual responsibility of individuals
for their immediate sphere of action.
The entry for Day 9 is titled, Contemplative Leadership. As you can tell, it balances “Strong Leadership” from Day 8. However, I must stress that in no way does contemplative equal “weak.” The comparison that Simpson makes is between the “inner life” (contemplative leadership) and the “outer life” (strong leadership).
Simpson’s entry for Contemplative Leadership is that of Moninna (or Edana). She was baptised and confirmed by none other than St. Patrick himself and was brought up by St. Brigid. It was Brigid who inspired Moninna to found a monastery in Ireland. But when crowds of people started to flock to her, she left her beloved Ireland and settled in Scotland where she built herself a prayer cell upon a high hill. “The hill became known as Edana’s Hill, later as Dunedin, and much later as Edinburgh.” Because of her time in silence and contemplation, she was led to create prayer communities in all the regions that Arthur ruled.
Here we see that it takes both inner work and outer work to bring changes to our world; to help usher in God’s Realm “on earth as in heaven.”
Today’s entry is titled, “New Beginnings, New Births” and compares Zechariah’s prophecy over his son John the Baptist (Luke 1.76-77) with the dream Anna has about her son she’ll have. In her dream, an angel tells Anna to name her son “Samson” after the Old Testament judge. The angel goes on to tell Anna the baby would be “holy, profitable to many,” and that “‘of the British race there has not been or will be anyone like him’.” Simpson states that if anyone reads the Life of St. Samson no one will doubt that all of this came true!
I’ve said this before but this is one of the things I like about the Celtic Saints, they’re all so human. They’re ordinary people whom God uses to do extraordinary things. I’m waiting with trepidation to read Amma Beth’s+ dissertation about the life of St. Samson. I bet it’s going to be wonderful!
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC
* For those interested in really good Celtic lore, I highly recommend Lawhead’s Song of Albion trilogy. It’s a series I read almost every year. Yes, it’s that good!