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Celtic wisdom for challenging times

Inspiration for all Seasons: Celtic Wisdom for Today is the title of John Scally’s latest book. All proceeds from the sale will go to The Peter McVerry Trust this Christmas, which will raise much-needed funds to help the homeless during the festive season. Peter McVerry SJ has recorded a short two-minute video message endorsing the book. Click here to watch. 

The book features poems, one-liners, short stories both funny and serious, all from the Celtic tradition. Peter picks out one piece of advice for worriers or people who are anxious during these dark days: “Sit back, do nothing; when spring comes, the green grass grows by itself.”

In his video, Peter says the book would make a wonderful gift either “for yourself or your family and friends. And as well as doing good for you and them, you’ll be doing good for those who are in need this Christmas.”

John Scally is a lecturer in theology in Trinity College Dublin. He says that in troubled times, he turns to his Celtic heritage to help him. “It offers shafts of light into the darkness that so many people grapple with on a daily basis and provides prisms of hope into the despair I regularly feel watching the news.”

The coronavirus pandemic illustrates vividly that the world today can be both disconcerting and disconnecting, according to John. “However, the Celtic tradition offers connections, community, and common sense. It is a rich vein to be mined of insight, imagination, and inspiration,” he says in a special message (see below) that gives a taster of what the book is like and how it might help the reader in these challenging times

Celtic wisdom for challenging times

May you live in interesting times. So says the Chinese curse. As this book was being written the Coronavirus struck the world with the ferocity of a tsumanai. Apart from the global trail of illness, economic devastation and death it sparked a tidal wave of fear. It struck at something deep inside us and shattered many of our cherished certainties.

We thought we were in control but nature reminded us of our fragility, vulnerability, and mortality not with a gentle whisper but with a primeval scream. It had echoes of a medieval plague but our twenty-first-century world struggled to find an adequate response to it. So where can we find a pathway through this existential crisis?

As someone who lectures in theology one resource I find helpful in troubled times is to turn to my Celtic heritage. It offers shafts of light into the darkness that so many people grapple with on a daily basis and provides prisms of hope into the despair I regularly feel watching the news.

As the Coronavirus illustrated so vividly the world today can be both disconcerting and disconnecting. However, the Celtic tradition offers connections, community, and common sense. It is a rich vein to be mined of insight, imagination, and inspiration. When we have an aching heart Celtic wisdom can be a sanctuary of rest, renewal, and reassurance. Long before the terms ‘mindfulness’ and ‘well-being’ were coined the Celtic tradition offered pathways to peace of mind and serenity.

This book recalls our Celtic tradition not only for our past or even for our present but equally importantly for our future.

Could it be that the Celtic Church had some significant emphases which we could profitably retrieve to the enrichment of our society and Church today? Their reverence for their environment; their recognition of the equality of women; their respect for the disabled; their emphasis on the creative and imaginative and their belief in the centrality of hospitality are as applicable for our time as theirs.

For those landing in ageing’s long dusk or approaching the shores of middle age, the Celtic tradition is particularly reassuring. To those of us who are slaves to time it points us in another direction. It offers a light to our imagination and a signpost to our path.

Notwithstanding the enormous social, economic, cultural, and political differences between the early years of the third millennium and the period of the fifth and ninth centuries could it be that in some respects at least, our future is on our past?

As this is a book of shared blessings I am donating all royalties to the Peter McVerry Trust who help those who need not a handout but a hand up.

John Scally