Irish Blessings to You

Rachel McCrickard, now program director at the YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga in Tennessee, introduced me to Celtic spirituality while a student in my human sexuality class. We talked a great deal in class about the negative impact of  Christian teachings emphasizing the sinfulness of body. Rachel thought I’d appreciate John Philip Newell’s resurrection of this lost thread of our Christian heritage which points to the goodness of creation and the human body.

She was right! I devoured her copy of the book, read most of his other books, and went on retreat with him a few years ago. Learning from my students is one of the gifts of being a teacher. I am grateful to Rachel and others who expand my knowledge, challenge my thinking and deepen my connection to eternal wisdom.

Wisdom enables us to see what author George MacCleod called “the glory in the grey” — the gifts that lie hidden in the dark places of our lives.

In honor of my Irish heritage, where this kind of wisdom has supported our survival as a people through many trials and tribulations, I share John Philip’s prayer for wisdom. May wisdom guide you to see the goodness in your body and your life that is deeper than any brokenness or challenges you face.

A Prayer for Wisdom by John Philip Newell

That truth has been inscribed into my heart and into the heart of every human being, there to be read and reverenced, thanks be to you, O God.

That there are ways of seeing and sensitivities of knowing hidden deep in the palace of the soul, waiting to be discovered, ready to be set free, thanks be to you.

Open my senses to wisdom’s inner promptings that I may give voice to what I hear in my soul and be changed for the healing of the world, that I may listen for truth in every living soul, and be changed for the well-being of the world.

J. Philip Newell, Sounds of the Eternal, Monday Morning Prayer