In August 2010, just past the waxing quarter moon, I attended a retreat on Celtic spirituality and peacemaking in Northern Ireland. The hosts of the retreat asked us to respect the safe and sacred space created by the community, and refrain from attributing direct quotes to any of the attendants or speakers. With that in mind, the following are excerpts from the journal I kept.
Day Two — Learning to Translate
"God is merciful."
I find a lot of use of Christian language and terms going on, which is not unexpected and not even that bothersome. I understand the sentiment most of the time — and so the challenge for me is going to be, I think, learning how to express the same (or similar) idea "Druidically."
Let's start with the assumption that we all share a reality, we all experience (differently) a shared, common reality — and that we experience it as human beings. Let's start from a place that accepts a certain amount of common ground, common experience expressed and therefore shaped by different language and metaphors.
The speaker tonight said that his greatest hope is that God is merciful, despite all of our faux-pas.
I would not put it this way anymore. My goddess is, I think, merciful, a goddess of mercy as much as of justice (funny how the term "social justice" implies a kind of mercy within it, a mercy which is also justice itself, a balancing). But Spirit, the One, the Source, as I understand it is not "merciful" exactly — this is almost too personal a way of putting it.
Instead, I might speak of the Song of the World, and how it moves with exquisite harmony and balance and beauty. I might say that it reverberates in us, that it tunes us to that greater harmony — and no matter how deaf we might think we have become, we can always hear that World Song — for it is what sustains and moves us. This is a mercy, a kind of persistence. And in a way, it is also merciful for being somewhat impersonal, larger than any one of us — a way of connecting. "God is merciful" is like a way of saying that beauty and love endure — but it is in their nature to endure, for they are responsive and dynamic, and only things which are so can last, can move as history moves, move as landscapes change.