Tom and Andy and I have just returned from the Wild Goose Festival, a wonderful celebration that takes its name from the Celtic symbol for the Holy Spirit. We have experienced rich days of fun, food and fellowship with friends old and new while at the same time drinking in the challenging messages calling us to justice, and engagement in our hurting world.
This gathering of friends old and new made me aware once more that I am a guest in God’s world, walking, living and eating in the company of friends. Now as I sit and get the morning program ready for our 25th Annual Celtic retreat I am even more aware of this.
In some ways all of us are guests, guests of God and of God’s world, generously and lavishly experiencing the hospitality of a world that is itself a gift from God. I am aware of that as I pick raspberries in the early morning, enjoying the abundance of God’s provision. I am aware of it too as I gaze on the beauty around me and breathe in the fragrance of God’s presence.
Celtic saints, who saw themselves as hospites mundi, or guests of the world, living lightly on this earth and not becoming attached to possessions or to one location. These followers of Christ, saw all of life as a pilgrimage, a journey towards God. They believed that we live in perpetual exile, constantly seeking after Christ, and our outward journeys are to reflect our inner transformation. In exiling themselves from the comforts of home, pilgrims taught themselves to rely only on God.
The Celts had a saying for those setting out on pilgrimage: “Let your feet follow your heart until you find your place of resurrection.” This was a spot where God’s will for a pilgrim would be revealed and fulfilled. The place of resurrection need not be a famous holy site or a place far away. It could be a simple stone hut, a windswept island, or a secluded valley. The important thing was that each person needed to find their own site.
Recognizing ourselves as guests and pilgrims effects how we view everything that happens to us. Pilgrims and those who travel frequently do not take anything for granted. They learn to be grateful for comforts that those who never leave home take for granted. For a guest, each meal, especially a home cooked meal, is a gift of love from the host. Each bed provided for us to sleep in is a generous act of sharing and caring. Everything is now a gift of God.
So as you go out into the world think of yourself today as a guest of the world and prepare yourself for the amazing gifts God wants to lavish on you today – gifts of friendship, and food. Gifts of fellowship and love and caring. And let me know what new things open up for you as a result.
And don’t forget there is still time to take advantage of the Early Bird special rate for our Celtic retreat.