Finding Abundance in Worship Reflections on pilgrimage 2016 by Michelle L hofer

"...if one looks long enough at almost anything, looks with absolute attention at a flower, a stone, the bark of a tree, grass, snow, a cloud,something like a revelation takes place. Something is 'given...'"

Mary Sarton, Journal of Solitude

A pilgrimage to sacred places such as those I visited in Scotland, England, and Ireland will no doubt afford worship opportunities to refresh and revive the soul.

Our days were sprinkled with beautiful Celtic prayers and poetry.

Bless to me O God

The earth beneath my feet.

Bless to me O God

The path on which I go.

Bless to me O God

The people whom I meet.

O God of all gods bless to me my life.

We sang in ancient cathedrals...

...and beheld breathtaking vistas.

We learned to write praise poetry...

O Labyrinth

composed of stones and grass

winding your way

through redoubling curves of

confusion and unpredictability,

yet true of purpose,

you guide us to the center of prayer:

Come, lead us on to

the depths of God's heart.

- JP Heath

...and gazed on the work of an illuminator's hand.

Opening words of the book of Matthew from the Lindisfarne Gospels

In all of these, joy and delight filled our hearts. It was refreshing and wonderful as to be expected. Praise and thanksgiving flowed freely. I began to wonder if it was possible to live this exuberantly once I returned home...once I came back to the life I know with its many challenges and struggles.

Does daily life have the potential for awe-inspiring, soul captivating wonder and worship?

The answer is yes.

I had an epiphany on this pilgrimage journey. Wisdom came to me in learning the Celtic Christian tradition's perspective concerning day-to-day living. It holds there is one principle that is to permeate all of life for the believer - worship. This concept is rooted in the understanding that all things and all moments are infused with God's presence and blessing. It gives way to a mindset that goes deeper than holding gratitude in one's heart.

The Celtic Christian knows the secret of how to live day and night in a continual outpouring of worship to God.

These believers embody what it is to have life, and have it to the full.

All of the created order is ever exuding praise and glory to God. It is the song the birds sing from sun up to sun down. Are we humans not to join in the chorus? The Celtic Christian understands that we must awake and even shout, as one poem begins, “Glorious Lord, I give you greeting!” This tradition says living a life in continual worship results in be changed, transformed, renewed. How can anger and bitterness coexist in the heart that is flowing with praise? Should it surprise us that in the Celtic Christian tradition there exist poetry, songs, and some of the most exquisite illumination of Bible text the world has ever known? These are a people attune to life as worship.

A new way of thinking about blessings is here as well. Author Esther De Waal writes that to understand blessing in the Celtic context is to see that it is not something to be asked for. Rather, it is to “recognize what is already there, already given, waiting to be seen, taken up, enjoyed. What a waste to go through life surrounded by all the good gifts that God showers on me, ‘gently and generously’ yet blind and deaf to his presence hidden in all things, human and nonhuman…In the face of such amazing grace and generosity, the only possible response must become that of continuing and ever-deepening praise.” (The Celtic Way of Prayer, 1997)

I found examples of worship being synonymous with life along the entire pilgrimage. It was at the center of each saint’s story, and was manifest at the locales we visited.

My feline friend from Sli an Chroi in Ireland.

I learned the desire to worship is found in your heart, at the core of your being. You can discover it when you stop to reflect on the goodness that is right before you and remember the God who has graciously provided.

Tea and Cuthbert Cake at Pilgrims Coffee on Holy Island.

May I encourage you?

Look closely. Pay attention. See and receive God’s gifts in and around you this day.

Live each day with joy and abundance.

You do not need to travel to a far-off land on pilgrimage to find the song that is in you...

...the song of all creation...the music of the spheres.

How lovely is your dwelling place,

O Lord of hosts!

Even the sparrow finds a home,

and the swallow a nest for herself,

where she may lay her young,

at your alters, O Lord of hosts,

my King and my God.

Blessed are those who dwell in your house,

ever singing you praise!

- Psalm 84:1,3-4

Further inspiration:

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Michelle L Hofer
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