Always, the Celtic knots and strands twist and braid a pattern that is beautiful and elegant, at once demonstrating the complexity of God’s creativity and the simplicity or unity that marks all things as God’s creation.
The Celtic tradition reflects this integration of mind, body and soul. Whether it be the kneading of bread, the weaving of cloth, the shearing of sheep or the plowing of fields, there is a mind and body synergy that allows the worker to engage the craft in such a way that their work becomes a prayer.
The plea and blessing she sought from God wasn’t just hers alone. Guests and visitors who arrived to a home in which the daily chores were being tended greeted their hosts with the Gaelic blessing Bail o Dhia which translates to, ‘God’s blessing on the work!’ The declaration of such a blessing expressed the implicit knowledge that the monotonous backbreaking work was not simply the laborer’s alone but a joint effort blessed by God upon which all of society depended.
If we pay attention to the Celtic woman’s kindling prayer, we realize what she prays for is more than a comfortable home. She asks God to kindle a flame of love within her heart that will reach out beyond herself to include her neighbors. As she attends to the basic needs of her home, she is also looking beyond her family to take care of the needs of others. Her kindling prayer reflects the nature of the Triune Godhead who is whole, complete and integrated as its own self, yet bothers to invite humanity to share in the gift of divine love.
Yet artwork, hymnody, liturgy and prayer are not the only ways the Trinity can be represented. To take another phrase from the Wesleys, Christian disciples are living, breathing “transcripts of the Trinity.”
Yet, whether we like it or not, a sense of alienation begins to creep into our lives, disconnecting us from a life of intentionality, a life of integration, a life of wholeness that is a hallmark of Celtic Christianity.
Celtic Christianity, through its prayers and practices, grounds participants in the fundamentals of who we are as human beings – creatures of God, our lives connected to the earth and related to the world – even the world beyond our tangible senses.
Celtic saints became saints because the community in which they lived recognized their life of holiness and relationship to God. Perhaps one reason there are so many Celtic saints is because they saw no separation between what was secular and religious – all of life was sacred, and therefore consecrated to God. It was intertwined, much like the famous knotwork still popular today.
I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity, the Three in One and One in Three – the space-maker who is the source of my freedom, the one who empowers me to defy the forces that seek to restrict me to unbending characterizations or rigid roles.