There is a traditional saying of ancient wisdom: 'A threshold is a sacred thing. In some places of the world, in some traditional cultures and in monastic life, this is still remembered. It is something, however, that we often forget today. To take time to pause at a threshold - be it a place, or a moment between one action and the next - is to show reverence for the handling of space and time, and respect for those who we meet. Pausing allows us to let go of all the demands and expectations of the previous activity, and to prepare for the encounter with another. Esther de Waal explores what this ancient wisdom has to teach us about our public lives in the world today.
by David Adam
Over fifty joyous years, David Adam has exercised a rich and profoundly influential ministry. His origins were humble if romantic: his father, an itinerant laborer, and mother, a traveller, had their first momentous encounter at the west end of Loch Ness on a summer’s day in the early 1930’s. They were married within a week.
David was born in Alnwick, Northumberland, a few years later, and encouraged from his earliest days to use his eyes to absorb what was around him. He writes: “ I lived in a land of open fields, moorland and beaches: a land of castles, of history, of heroes, saints and story… a radiant world… full of the mystery of existence.”
The aim of The Wonder of Beyond is primarily to help us enter David Adam’s own words, ‘ a wonder-filled world’; to open our eyes, ears and hearts to what is about us; to become truly aware of the glory of God in our midst.
Listening for the Heartbeat of God presents a spirituality for today, modelled on the vital characteristics of Celtic spirituality through the centuries. there is an emphasis on the essential goodness of creation and of humanity, made in the image of God. The book traces the lines of Celtic spirituality from the British Church in the fourth century through to the twentieth century, in the founder of the Iona community, George MacLeod.
Philip Newell finds Celtic spiritual roots in the New Testament, in the mysticism of St John the Evangelist. John was especially remembered as the one who lay against Jesus at the Last Supper and heard the heartbeat of God. So he becomes a Celtic image of listening to God in all of life. This fresh angle on Celtic spirituality - linking figures in the Bible and in the British Christian history - will be warmly welcomed by all who are concerned to refresh the roots of their faith.
The Revd Dr J Philip Newell is a poet, scholar and teacher. Formerly Warden of Iona Abbey, he is now Companion Theologian for the American Spirituality Centre of Casa del Sol in the high desert of New Mexico. Newell has won international acclaim for his work in the field of Celtic spirituality.
Carmina Gadelica is an anthology of poems and prayers from the Gaelic oral tradition, the most comprehensive ever collected. They came from communities all over the Highlands and Islands of Scotlad, were often shared or performed in the evening ceilidh and therby passed on from generation to generation. Alexander Carmichael complied the collection in the second half of the nineteenth century, and in doing so created a lasting record of a culture and way of life that has now largely disappeared. In the Introduction, Carmichael recounts with great warmth and evident pleasure the hospitality which he received from the people whose songs and stories he was anxious to record "I have three regrets -" he says, "that I had not been earlier collecting, that I have not been more diligent in collecting, and that I am not better qualified to treat what I have collected." Nevertheless, Carmina Gadelica quickly became an invaluable resource for those wanting to study and understand Gaelic culture and for those wanting to experience the beauty and wisdom of its oral literature.