Resource: The Celtic Wheel of the Year
I would like to introduce you to one of my favorite books: The Celtic Wheel of the Year: Celtic and Christian Seasonal Prayers by Tess Ward. (read reviews here) Basically, this book has taught me how to pray more poetically. Not to write poetry, but to think and pray in metaphor, in imagery, in beauty. My wife and I have read through The Celtic Wheel for several years. Last year we took a break from it and I found myself anxious to get back to it at the start of 2013.
I struggle to explain why this book because it is so unique. Tess gives you a series of prayers for each month…to be repeated weekly throughout the month. You want to repeat them because they are so poetic. The prayers are ecological, in that they are based in the earth and the season;, earthy, in that they exude a spirituality that is authentic, gutsy….the stuff of real life struggle; and Celtic, in that they occasionally touches on the fascinating lives of the Celtic saints.
Tess give you several pages of introduction to each month where she explains the history of our traditions associated with the seasons that have arisen through the centuries. I love these prayers so much that I have set a couple of them to choral music: (Hope-Bringer and Bless Me)
Life-force of God, you make the sap to rise,
the swelling of bud to burst the sheath.
May I let the fruits of your Spirit grow in me this day.
Spirit of love abide in my ears as I listen to stories different to mine own.
Spirit of joy beam in my eyes as I meet the gaze of another.
Spirit of peace breathe through my attitude.
Spirit of kindness blow through the words I speak.
Spirit of patience breeze across my frustration before I say or act.
Spirit of faithfulness guard me when I’m tempted to stray.
Spirit of generosity spill over in all I think or do or say.
Spirit of gentleness be fragrant in all my dealings with the world.
Spirit of self-control do no limit, but channel the abundance of your fruits
as I partake in your transforming ways blowing through this day.
Ancient One who makes all things new, bless me with your eternal love.
Bless me with your faithfulness when time has not yet forged loyalty and care,
and when I get worn and stuck, bless me with the hope of newness.
Settle me with your ageless love as I set out on this first day of all my tomorrows.
Praise to you Word of Life,
who speaks from the depths of the silence
to the deep of me, in my mother tongue,
not in sentences or commands but in the Spirit,
reaching to the bottom of my soul
before I think straight or arrange what I mean.
Like when I was held at the beginning and there were no words.
O Hand-Holder, who walks with me,
bless my heart with courage when fears creep.
Bless my feet upon the path when it turns steep.
Bless my eyes with gratitude for the wonders you have shown me.
Bless my hands with trust in your hands that will never disown me.
Keep me this night for long is the trail and sacred is the journey.