THE CELTIC REVERENCE FOR THE DAY
Celtic spirituality has a great sense of the significance of each day, how the new day is sacred. The Celts never entered the day with a repetitious deadening perspective; they took each day as a new beginning. There is a lovely Celtic prayer which articulates this sense of the day as a gift from God. The metaphor of vision suffuses the poem. There is an invocation that the human eye may 'bless all it sees' and that God's vision may guard and guide the day. The day is understood as a time of reflexive blessing which embraces God, self, others and nature.
God bless to me the new day
never vouchsafed to me before
it is to bless thy own presnce thou has
given triumph God.
Bless though to me
may mine eye bless all it sees
I will bless my neighbour
my my neighbour bless me,
God give me a clean heart
let me not from sight of thine ey
bless to me my children and my wife
and bless to me my means and cattle.
(trans. A. Carmichael)
For the Celtic person the new day was lived amidst nature. It is easy to have a creative sense of the day when you live in the presence of the great divinity called nature. For the Celtic people, nature was not matter, rather it was a luminous and numinous presence which had depth, possibility and beauty.
There is also a beutiful invocation of the day in the ancient poem called 'The Deer's Cry':
I arise today
Through God's strength to direct me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak to me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me from snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in a multitude.
(trans. Kunoy Meyer)
This poem articulates the Celtic recognition of the omnipresence of God. The very act of awakening is recognized as a gift. At the threshold of a new day there is no arrogance; rather a longing to praise. God is pictured in sensuous detail as the divine anam cara. At every moment and in every situation God is the intimate, attentive and encouraging friend.
This notion of the day as a sacred place offers a lovely frame for the creativity which a day can bring. Your life becomes the shape of the days you inhabit. Days enter us. Sadly, in modern life, the day is often a cage. Here a person loses his youthfulness, energy and strength. The day is often experienced as a cage precisely because it is spent in the workplace. So many of our days and so much of our time is spent doing work which remains outside the territories of creativity and feeling. The workplace can be complex and very difficult. Most of us work for someone else and lose so much of our energy. As a matter of fact, one of the definitions of energy is the ability to do work. Days spent caged make us tired and weary. In a city all the morning traffic jams hold people who are barely out of the night and are sleepy, anxious and frustrated. Pressure and stress have already stolen their day. In the evening, the same people are weary after a long workday. By the time they get home, they have no energy left to attend to the desires, thoughts and feelings which were neglected all day.
It is very difficult, at first consideration, to bring the world of work and the world of soul together. Most of us work in order to survive. We need to make money; we have no choice. On the other hand, those who are unemployed feel frustrated and demeaned and suffer a great loss of dignity. Yet those of us who work are often caught within a grid of predictability and repetition. It is the same every day. There is such an anonymous side to work. All that is demanded of us is the input of our energy. We move through the workplace, and as soon as we are gone in the evening, we are forgotten. We have the feeling that our contribution, while it is required and demanded, is merely functional and in reality hardly appreciated. Work should not be like that at all; it should be an arena of possibility and real expression.