Voice and Vision

One Woman's WORDS AND WORKS •grapple •inspire •liberate

147: Ireland, Scotland, and Wales

I’ve been reading about the Celts. Because I am one–thanks to my Irish, Scottish and Welsh ancestors–and because I’ve traveled and painted in Ireland and Wales (keen to add Scotland one of these days!), I’ve felt a deep mystical connection to everything Celtic.

Studying Celtic spirituality, I learned how the Celts influenced early medieval Christianity from the 4th through the 12th centuries. Their prayers, hymns, and blessings, reveal their poetic imagination and appreciation of nature. They found God in ordinary life, in everything from making the beds to lighting hearth fires or taking a journey. The sea, moon and stars, woods and valleys, animals and birds, home and family, stories and legends, artistic creativity, and the guidance that comes through dreams run through their words, which were often spoken rather than written, passed from one generation to the next.

I love the simplicity, wisdom, and beauty of their prayers. For example, here’s a few selected lines from a Welsh praise poem dated 10th or 11th century:


Glorious Lord, I give you greeting!

Let the plain and the hillside praise you.

Let the dark and the daylight praise you.

Let the birds and the honeybees praise you.

Let the fish in the swift streams praise you.

Let the thought and the action praise you.

Let the sand-grains and the earth-clods praise you.

Glorious Lord, I give you greeting!


And a bit from a Scottish prayer:


God over me, God under me,

God before me, God behind me,

I on Thy path, O God,

Thou, O God, in my steps.


Prayer was inseparable from ordinary life. Church-going was not as important as living Christly daily. They appreciated the beauty of nature, joyed in every attribute of human experience, and expressed a generous gratitude to God every minute of their day in poetry, story, and song.  I’ve found following such Celtic practices enables inspired stillness and clear direction.

If you’d like to explore Celtic Christianity, two books I recommend are Esther De Waal’s The Celtic Way of Prayer and Celtic Christian Spirituality, An Anthology of Medieval and Modern Sources by Oliver Davies and Fiona Bowie.

May the guarding of the God of Life be upon you.

Roadside Ruins, Ireland, watercolor by Gwendolyn Evans, sold.

Roadside Ruins, Ireland, watercolor by Gwendolyn Evans, sold.

Artwork:  Roadside Ruins, Ireland, watercolor, sold. Traveling in Ireland was like a return to the past. At every turn, remnants of a castle, church, or chapel appeared. In America, at every turn, there’s a gas station; in Ireland, at every turn, there’s a charming castle or ruin calling out to be painted. I only had eight days in Ireland, but intensely painted and took photos, eventually framing and exhibiting several dozen paintings.

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