Praying With Stones

Patrick Griffin’s retreat in Ireland this past September

Have you ever felt the energies of The Divine radiate through some dimension of Nature? It’s that palpable, connected sensation that instantaneously ignites and illuminates That Which is of God in each of us. It is both undeniable and unmistakable.

Inis Mor, the largest of the three Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland, has called monastic women and men since the 5th century — Enda, Benan, Colmcille, Ciaran, Fursey, Berchan, Brendan, Conal, Colman Mhic Duach and Sourney. These monastics were sent out from Europe with the mandate to” find their place of resurrection”. On Inis Mor they found their place of resurrection. The physical landscape of Inis Mor remains exquisitely rugged to this very day— much of the island cannot even sustain trees. Instead the landscape is shaped by wind and stones and soil created from centuries of seaweed carried from the shores of the island. Everywhere you look there are stones — shaped into handmade stone fences that reach as far as they can see with stones carefully resting against other stones, in other places shaped into small, ancient monastic churches and residences. Even stone beehive huts, homes to hermit monks dot the island.

In September I had the privilege of gathering with Deirdre Ni Chinneide ,a co-Facilitator, and nine Seekers who carried on in the tradition of the ancient monastics. We gathered in the village of Cill Mhuirbhigh (Kilmurvey) to focus on The Liturgy of the Hours as a doorway to experiencing The Divine present in us and in the natural world around us. As an intentional community for 4 days we created a Sacred Circle and sought to deeply listen to God reveal Godself to us through one another, through the mindful practice of praying The Liturgy of the Hours, through chant and through the powerful sacred energies of the ocean, the wind and the stones of Aran.

We prayed the Hours in ancient monastic ruins, walked the rounds at Holy Wells, celebrated the Eucharist in the ruins of an ancient monastic settlement on a hillside gently rolling down to the sea. And then, on our final morning we made a silent pilgrimage to Dun Aonghus, an ancient stone ring fort on a cliff 100 meters above the Atlantic. Here, on the westernmost point of Europe, we gave thanks in the early morning for all we had been gifted with over the retreat days.

The Island, as the home over the centuries of women and men seeking to deeply listen, still speaks. It invites you to let go and be transformed. The Aran stones hold to this day, the spirit and the spirituality of these Seekers who have gone before. Their prayers, their dreams, their wrestling with God and their place of resurrection energize the landscape and seek to illuminate those who dare listen with their inner Self.

Our nine retreatants have added their own sacred energies and longings to the Aran stones. The tradition of the Ancients is carried on! Come join us in 2013 as we again gather on Inis Mor to be quiet, to be still and to listen for the sound of God’s coming so that instead of seeking, we may be found!

Patrick Griffin
patrickgriffin@shaw.ca

About Saint Brigid's

Saint Brigid of Kildare Catholic Faith Community Society of Calgary is a place of welcome, joy, support, exploration and love for those who desire to participate in the growth and renewal of the Roman Catholic church.
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