Continued from Part 2:
At this point a memory bubbles to the surface of some wonderful stories that arise from the Celtic saints who were provided for in ways that seem miraculous to us jaded modern humans. Many of us are truly spiritually impoverished when it comes to believing in miracles nowadays. We have lost the sense of the mysterious miraculous inherent in a living loving Creator, for whom nothing is impossible. To believe in miracles is childlike and perhaps we should not abandon our belief in them along our journey quite so readily, for miracles do indeed happen, perhaps more often that we hear of. What we call our modern-day sophistication can also be described as barren ways of behaving. It is reported that saints, whilst living as hermits in isolated cells, often on small islands off the mainland were brought food by animals and birds, which kept their stocks maintained and prevented starvation. Sometimes these stores would be discovered by their fellow monks after the hermit’s death when they next checked up on them. They also provided company to the hermit, and often the early hermits would preach to the animals and birds just as keenly as to their fellow human beings. They made no distinction between any of God’s creation and knew that all creation was hungry for the words of the Father.
A few years ago I would have considered these stories as myths and perhaps some are, but I know a man who lived close to Nature for many years, living in a tepee in the forests on the West coast of Scotland. He largely ignored human company at that time but was close to the animals and birds around him, being his only company. He would often share his food with them. One time, food was scarce and he had not ventured out to nearby villages to get any. A beaver approached his tepee, dripping wet, carrying a whole salmon in its mouth. The beaver dropped it at his feet, near to the fire. My friend cut the head off the fish and threw it to the beaver, which caught it up and wandered happily away.
This same man fishes on his boat now for a living. Recently he was approaching some very dangerous waters where the rocks lie close to the surface, but are not visible, nor well mapped. Suddenly two lines of porpoises appeared from nowhere and split into two groups, forming two distinct lines. If he sailed within these lines, they were happy; if he veered outwards they became distressed urging him to go between them. He followed them through and effectively they had navigated him through these dangerous rocks.
Saint Martinus, bishop of Lougdoynoy, was an ascetic lived on wild herbs but he did not know how to select the good from the poisonous, with the result that he would often suffer with convulsions. He stopped eating for seven days and was on the verge of dying, when an ibex approached him and selected the good from the poisonous herbs. The ascetic taking this as an example of what was safe to eat was saved from death. “Yes, my Lord” in all the good times and through the bad times is an anchor of our faith, reaffirming our faith and strengthening our humble dependence upon our Lord enabling the miraculous to touch our lives too sometimes.
In his book entitled “Invitation to Love”, the Trappist monk and founder of Contemplative Outreach, Ltd, Thomas Keating details four consents. He says that the spiritual journey is a training in consent in God’s presence and to all reality and that at each major stage of that development God asks us to make an appropriate consent. In childhood, he says, God asks us to consent to the basic goodness of our nature with all its parts. In early adolescence, God asks us to accept the full development of our being by activating our talents and creative energies. The consent asked of us in early adulthood is to accept the fact of our non-being and the diminutions of self that occur through illness, old age and death. And finally, the fourth consent that is asked of us is the consent to be transformed. He further says that we do not make these consents as ends in themselves, but rather to the will of God present in all these things. We consent to God and to his will both in the enjoyment and in the surrender of his gifts.
I say “Yes, my Lord in all the good times, through all the bad times.” I have faith that you are leading me and I follow with all my heart and soul. Stay close by me and guide me, drawing me ever closer to your presence, that I may see you face to face once again. Amen.
(C) Stephanie Rudd 2013