Pentecost Peregrinations

Last week I posted here on the “wild goose” as a Celtic symbol of The Holy Spirit.

 It's a great metaphor for these months after Pentecost as it is a time of year when we can start to think about summer holidays and a little freedom from the daily grind, and an opportunity to be ourselves, to allow our imaginative spirits to play.

But even in the everyday familiarity of our home ground we can still be the imaginal  "wild flying goose."

Here Timothy Radcliffe, Former Master General of The Dominican Order of Preachers gives a challenging talk about the Christian Imagination and The Contemporary Search For God's Wisdom...

If you want to skip the obligatory introduction (which seem to get longer and longer these days,) slide to approx 10 minutes from start. I don't think long introductions to a speaker are necessary.They can always be put as a written addendum and I prefer the immediacy of a speaker. Just my own preference.

                                      and another one here on The Imagination.

There is a word that evokes my imagination at Pentecost.

The word is peregrinati, the undefined journeys or wanderings whether physical and/or spiritual, allow us the possibilities of transformation in new territories, across landscapes with unfamiliar horizons. 

There is a story of three monks who set off from the south of Ireland in a small boat without oars, rudder, or supplies. 

They let the wind of the Holy Spirit take them across the water for seven days before landing on the north coast of Cornwall. The monks were then taken to King Alfred, who asked them why they had sailed away. 

They replied, “We stole away because we wanted for the love of God to be on pilgrimage, we cared not where.”


The old Celtic Church spoke of the purpose of peregrination as “finding the place of one’s resurrection."

This outward journey, often without a specific destination, was a symbol of a hoped-for inner transformation.

Will we ever learn to have complete trust in the direction of the Holy Spirit as we search for our place of resurrection ?

 This fine article by Julie Clewson builds on the theme of peregrination, an extract from which is below:

"The Celtic monks followed that call of the wild bird on their peregrinati, journeying with the spirit on undetermined paths. They served, and worshipped, and reflected along the way but often had no real goal or destination beyond the journey itself. They embodied Tolkien’s famous “not all who wander are lost” phrase, for it was their wanderings – their wild goose chases -that held the meaning in themselves.

If anything, Wild Goose was a gathering of those who dream of a better way. A better way to be human, a better way to be the church. Not in a “we want to be better than you” sort of way, but more of a deep felt recognition that the world is not as it should be. It was that wrestling with trying to live into the lives God created us to live that became the conversation at Wild Goose Festival......

 I can’t speak for everyone there, but from the conversations I was a part of it truly did seem to be a gathering of folks who deeply dreamed of a better way; people who desired for our faith to mean something tangible; people, who, as Richard Rohr said there, don’t want to settle for the easy shallow faith of merely worshipping God – putting God on an idealized but distant pedestal to be admired but not known. 

They want to follow God in ways that transform their lives and therefore the lives of others as well. People who desire to follow God in ways that bring about justice, that seek to restore broken relationships, that always orient around caring about the needs of others.

 But also people who don’t trust in their own strength to do such things, who know the world and the church are messy, and that we need time for lament and repentance as part of our experience of following Jesus."

We all struggle to live the life God created us to live, whatever our historical time and place. 

It is a challenge for every individual to discover their unique way to be an instrument of God's real and continuing presence in this world. 

To make this reality visible in a time of hardship when swathes of people do not know or even care about God or Pentecost, in a time marked by oppression, rising violence, injustice or even the threat of total destruction is hard and costly.

It is a time when the hierarchy of the church seem to need reminding that the servants are not greater than their master.

Just as in the early days of community after Pentecost, every Christian has to find a new way of wisdom and a way to witness through whatever conflicts of history they find themselves immersed in, trying to draw courage from the memory of Jesus, from the experience of his continuing presence in the Eucharist and the Holy Spirit.

I agree with Julie Clewson in that I don't think we can ever trust in our own strength to change perceptions.

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell...where it is going.” (John 3: 8,)

 Click here for a rare glimpse into the renowned artist He Qi's studio as you watch a large-scale painting take shape before your eyes. Renowned Chinese artist He Qi, currently artist-in-residence at CMS in Oxford, granted privileged access to his creative process in this video recording of the development of his  painting – 'The Mission of God' – specially commissioned for the foyer of the CMS mission centre in Oxford.

More about He Qi

This provocative poem on Pentecost from Walter Brueggemann from his book entitled Prayers for a Privileged People is a sad but accurate reflection of how our vision of God has become tame and constrained. 

Indeed it seems true that the more privileged we become and the higher our material aspirations , the smaller becomes our belief of what the Holy Spirit is capable of .

This poem would not be an accurate description of belief in Africa or other parts of the world where cultures have a visceral spirituality and a much more palpable and tangible relationship to the Holy Spirit.

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