Art of Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson

Many of us celebrate Celtic spirituality in March.

This month is connected to the Celts because of Saint Patrickís Day on March 17.

Even before I knew much about Celtic spirituality I knew March was when we drank green beer and they turned the Chicago River green.

Saint Patrick was a British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland in the Fifth Century. Patrick was captured from his home in Roman Britain and taken to Ireland as a slave. He lived there six years before escaping and returning to his family. According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland after becoming a member of the clergy and is regarded as the founder of Christianity there.

Irelandís distance from Rome allowed Christianity to develop in new ways. Christian beliefs and traditional Celtic spirituality combined to create fresh understandings.

Celtic Christians lived close to nature and took time to reflect on its variety and beauty. They drew deep spiritual lessons from the natural world all around them. Celtic spirituality was able to integrate Biblical teaching with the Druidic heritage of Ireland.

Celtic spirituality is also more centered on the goodness of creation than on the evil in the world. God is alive in the world and revealed in the natural world.

A reflective, contemplative understanding of the natural world encourages imagination. When we look at the world around us we see God in imaginative ways. Celtic spirituality recognizes the power of spiritual life all around us, and within us.

Celtic spirituality relies on the senses to recognize and appreciate spiritual life. What our senses tell us is experienced with imagination.

Celtic imagination produces a wide variety of art and artifacts. Imagination is evident in  poetry and other writing, weaving and metalwork, carving and architecture.

As we follow the example of Celtic spirituality the world opens to our imagination. We begin to see spiritual life shaping and undergirding the world around us.

While Patrick is recognized as the primary Patron Saint of Ireland, another of its Patron Saints is Saint Brigid of Kildare. Brigid reflects the imaginative nature in Celtic spirituality  in one prayer poem, in which she writes,

I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings. 

I would like to be watching Heaven's family drinking it through all eternity.

One of Brigidís miracles was reputedly turning water into beer.

Our recognition and celebration of March this year does not need to be limited to green beer or even March Madness.

March is also the month when spring begins. We celebrate the end of winter and the sprouting of new life.

This month is filled with opportunities to visit breweries and tasting rooms, try something new, and raise a glass to the new life bursting out all around us.

I encourage you to, like the Celts, experience the world around us in new ways. Our understanding of spiritual life does not need to be limited by traditional assumptions or preconceived notions.

Like the spring which begins this month, like Celtic spirituality, we can open ourselves to new experiences and reflections.

Please join me in taking a trip to a new tasting room this month and toasting the idea of a great lake of ale for God and watching heavenís family drinking it through all eternity.

 

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor in Pasadena, California. He is passionate about craft brewing, listening, and monks and monastic life. Greg is a recovering attorney, executive, and university professor. Gregís website is StrategicMonk.com and he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk. You can email Greg at StrategicMonk@gmail.com, and he writes a blog for the Contemplative channel onhttp://www.patheos.com.

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