An Advent Retreat
Things Celtic seem to be appearing frequently in our culture – in music, art, jewelry, movies – as well as in spirituality. In fact, Celtic spiritual tradition is deeply embedded in Anglican Christianity.
The ancient Celts prized deep connections with nature and the divine wisdom hidden within it – in the rocks, plants and animals that share our world, as well as in our souls and physical bodies. Due to current upheavals in our earth’s climate as well as in human society, a deep yearning for a different way seems to be emerging in many of us, which may find resonance in the wisdom of our Celtic Christian ancestors.
In this introductory retreat, we will discuss what traits distinguish Celtic Christian spirituality, including images and ideas coming from earlier spiritual systems. We will read and discuss selected writings from early Celtic Christian theologians that illuminate their thoughts and theology. We will study and learn some prayers from the Carmina Gadelica, a collection of early Celtic prayers from the Hebrides, as well as some early Gaelic chants. We will hear and discuss stories of the Celtic saints. Through the beauty of prayer, chant, Celtic harp music and song, story, and time spent walking and praying in nature, we will seek to deepen our awareness of Christ's presence, within ourselves and in all that surrounds us.
James Ruff, our Retreat Leader, is a professional singer and harper specializing in music for voice and harp from Gaelic Scotland and Ireland. A speaker of Scottish Gaelic and a member of the Episcopal Church since 2000, he has also been involved with the Ceile De (Culdee) Order – a Celtic Christian monastic order centered in Scotland – since 2005. He has sung as soloist with many early music groups, opera companies and festivals throughout the US and in Europe, teaches Music: Voice at Vassar College, and was Director of Music at Christ the King Episcopal Church in Stone Ridge, NY from 2004-2015.
Robert Bowler or "Beau" is the Director of Immanuel Retreat Center and will be our host and Chaplain. He will sit in on the sessions, be available for private counsel, and lead Celtic Evening and Morning Prayer services. Beau majored in Religious Studies at Reed College, earned an M.Div. degree from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, was ordained as a Unitarian Universalist minister in 1994 and has been practicing Celtic spirituality with the Ceile De Order since 2007.