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Blog of the Grateful Bear

ramblings of a freelance panentheist {"all things are in God, and God is in all things"} . . . musings on Emergent spirituality, powerlifting, LGBTQueer issues, contemplative prayer, mysticism, cats, music, healing, and more. I like my coffee and my existentialism dark-roasted.

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Location: Marietta, Georgia, United States

I'm an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), in private practice in Marietta, Georgia. My writings on queer spirituality have been published in Whosoever and several other magazines. I live in a house-in-the-woods (Bear's Hermitage) in Marietta with Leonidas (Lenny) and Guy, Mighty Warrior Cats, and way too many books.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

BookLog: Water from an Ancient Well

Water from an Ancient Well by Kenneth McIntosh is one of the most quietly wise books I've read in a long time. "Like a Celtic knot, this book is meant to be enjoyed in a nonlinear fashion," McIntosh states in his introduction. Each chapter is a self-contained essay on a particular topic in Celtic Christian spirituality, with stories, theological-historical background, and applications for today. A lot of my favorites are here: St. Brigid of Kildare, the Gaelic hymn "Be Thou My Vision," the Celtic sunwheel cross, St. Columba, St. Brendan the Voyager, even Merlin the Magician. Quotes from C. S. Lewis, "the great Celtic theologian of modern times," are peppered throughout the book. 

My favorite chapters are the ones about the panentheism of John Scotus Erigena ("Every Bush Aflame: God Revealed in Nature") and the one about "Furred and Feathered Neighbors: Creatures of Grace," which shows how St. Columba, St. Brigid, and others related to their animal neighbors. From that chapter:

John Scotus Erigena (Charlemagne's Irish-born theologian) and C. S. Lewis (also born in Ireland, though many centuries later) both wrote about animal salvation, and both shared a similar view. Lewis and Erigena suggest that we are our pets' redeemers; our love for them is a part of God's restoration of all things. Erigena writes, "When man is recalled into the original grace of his nature... he will gather again to himself every sensible creature below him through the wonderful might exercised by the Divine Power in restoring man." In Lewis's novel The Great Divorce, he describes a "great lady" in heaven, surrounded by a small menagerie, and he explains, "Every beast and bird that came near her had its place in her love. In her they became themselves. And now the abundance of life she has in Christ from the Father flows over into them." On a more humorous note, Robert Louis Stevenson writes, "You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us."

If you're not familiar with Celtic Christian spirituality, Water from an Ancient Well is a great introduction. Even if you are familiar, this book is a great way to revisit some of these stories, poems, and prayers and learn new ones - especially as we enter the contemplative season of Advent. 


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