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Newsletter June 2013


The Celtic Arc and other historical wandering notes

Some of you have asked with curiosity what is this Northumbria Community that Marda was speaking about, and says she is in the process of joining, using that catholic sounding word "novitiate"? 

What we really liked about Northumbria Community was that it is Celtic, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox.  One of their founders is in Selcuk near Izmir Turkey the other side of the Celtic Arc.  The presence of Christian faith in Ireland and across Europe is a very old 2000 year rich heritage.

They are not a church and not of any

particular denomination.  The couple that run the mother house is an Anglican Rector and his wife, a PCUSA minister in training for the Anglican church.  The couple living on Lindisfarne are Roman Catholic.  The other leader, Roy Searle, is a Baptist.

Their Rule of Life is simply Availability and Vulnerability.  Followers seek to ask ourselves three questions:
"Who is it that you seek?" 
"How then shall we live?"
"How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" 

They encourage participation in a local church, but half of those affiliated with the community are not doing this at the present time.  Such is the state of the institutional church.  The Northumbria Community encourages the use of Celtic Daily Prayer, a book called an Office, which prescribes prayers said four times a day developed from Celtic and other Christian sources.  They don't have a creed other than an assertion that we believe in the triune God of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Marda spent eight days in Northumbria, the northeast of England just below Scotland.  It is beautiful with friendly people.  Lane Stahl, her meditation and prayer partner from California, met her there. They explored coastal paths, river banks, small villages, a deer park belonging to a Duke, interspersed with visits to Nether Springs, the mother house of the Northumbria Community, for lectures and group prayers.

Then Ward came and the three of us went on a boat ride to the Farne Islands to see puffins and be pecked by terns, and then attended a retreat at Nether Springs called "Dancing the Celtic Prayers" with Andy Raine.

We attended some of the orientation sessions of the Intro Retreat and went with a group for a pilgrimage to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.  Very similar to Iona which is off the west coast of Scotland, the islands are historically related.

Holy Island is a 2+ miles by 1 1/2 mile tidal island currently inhabited by 140 permanent residents and visited by 650,000 tourists/pilgrims annually.  The ruins of a 11th Century Benedictine priory survive and a functioning Anglican church built over the site of Aidan's church is beside it.

The Christian history goes back to 635 AD when a monastic community was planted by bishop Aidan and 12 monks from Iona.  He was humble, diligent, and very successful in spreading Christianity into this area.  Aidan was followed by Cuthbert and art flourished at the monastery. The Lindisfarne Gospels which date from the 700s, are housed in the British Library in London. Durham will display the original manuscript this summer and the city is quite abuzz in preparation.

Getting back to what the Northumbria Community is, it is a dispersed community of like-minded people seeking to live an authentic Christian life.  They are part of the New Monasticism, a term bandied about and for which the leaders want to avoid turning into another movement.  It just means the individual is on an inward and outward journey, taking time for the cell (each one's private space) and for mission (our vocation).  It resonated with us mostly because there is a local group in Belfast who had welcomed us to their meetings and who want to be community as we each journey to deeper faith.

When one becomes a companion of Northumbria the vows are renewed annually.  Some are life companions and some for only a season.  We don't know which we will be but it is very comforting to find this additional home for now.

Thank you Catherine.

Email: wardstothers@cten.org
Phone: (028) 90 291986  From U.S. 01144.2890.291986

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