Lynn Valley is home to nearly a dozen churches and congregations of various types. But in this age that is often described as “spiritual but not religious,” church leaders are increasingly being found outside their buildings, helping people of all backgrounds find the sacred in everyday life.
Lynne McNaughton is the priest at St. Clement’s Anglican Church on Institute Road, and an avid learner and teacher of Celtic spirituality. Lynne, who has a doctorate in spirituality and has led pilgrimages to several ancient Celtic sites in Europe, is looking forward to introducing interested locals to the tradition of Celtic practices that serve to inject an appreciation of nature and holiness into the everyday tasks of living.
Everyone is welcome to participate in the hands-on workshops, which will take place at Mollie Nye House, 840 Lynn Valley Road, over a series of Monday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. Topics to be explored include:
April 20: Smooring the Fire: Mindfulness in ordinary everyday physical activity
May 11: Illumination: Beauty as spiritual practice
May 25: Celtic Knots as Spiritual Practice: Interweaving life and the sacred
June 8: Holiness of Rocks and Trees, Skies and Seas: Cultivating awe as a spiritual practice (This session will begin with a Celtic dinner at 6 p.m.)
Cost is $10 for each of the first three sessions, $20 for the June dinner session, or $50 for the whole series. Register by calling 604-988-4418 (St Clement’s Church, where messages are checked frequently) or email at [email protected] Please inquire about babysitting should that be helpful.
LynnValleyLife recently caught up with Lynne to ask her some more questions about the workshops and her thoughts about Celtic spirituality in general. We’ve shared her answers, below:
What is it about Celtic spirituality that intrigues you? What do you think it has to offer people in the church and in the wider community?
Celtic spirituality has intrigued me for decades, as I have led pilgrimages to ancient Celtic sites in several countries. Although I am fifth or more generations Canadian, I have Irish, Welsh and Scottish heritage (as you might guess from my last name!) I see Celtic life as part of my own roots, my aboriginal heritage. My study of Celtic spirituality deepens my understanding of myself, who am I, how do I relate, and what matters in life.
I see Celtic spirituality as embodied, that is, having to do with our physical bodies. Spirit and body are connected, and I think this is something we are reclaiming today; that spirituality is not some separate ethereal thing, but our whole beings.
Celtic spirituality is also very communal. Our hope with this whole series is to have conversation in our neighbourhood that work against the isolation in our society, or a sense that our spiritual lives are only private and solitary.
What parallels might you suggest between the Celtic culture and ours on the Pacific coast?
I think that we are aware, as we live in the immense beauty of nature around us and at this moment are recoiling in horror at an oil spill, that we all need to reclaim a spirituality of deep connection to Earth; Celtic spirituality gives us some roots in that, some ways of tending to that.
One of the sessions will be about beauty and spirituality. Celtic spirituality honours and builds our imaginations.
When I have taught Celtic spirituality in Indigenous communities in Canada, we have talked about how Christianity arrived in Ireland in the fourth century with a much more respectful (less colonial and imperial) stance than it did in our country.
Christianity was strongly influenced by Celtic culture when it blended in to Ireland’s rural life, a life that was far more connected to the earth than early continental and urban Christianity. Earth and everyday life are, after all, infused with the sacred. I am fine if people call me pagan; it simply means “people of the Earth” – and aren’t we all!
What will people learn/experience in the workshops?
These aren’t lectures! I will give an introduction to a spiritual practice, some background and context, but this will be experiential learning. There will be practice, action, and discussion about how we might adapt these insights from the Celts into our real everyday lives. Be prepared to be playful!
Any hints about what a Celtic dinner might entail?
We are creating the closing dinner from foods that were traditional and considered sacred to the Celts. The food will be local, as much as possible – we’re not importing anything. Is that enough of a hint? Think apples, for instance!
Are you planning other community workshops in the future?
Yes, we plan to have offer other themes to engage people in developing a healthy spiritual practice. One example is embodied prayer – I know I pray best when I am moving!