Dear Henri, Edge of Centre – Week 17, Day 4

Circling prayer

Artistic impression of "caim" or "circling prayer"

Dear Henri,

The ancient Christian Celts often spoke and prayed about God's protective “circling” presence. These prayers were called “circling prayers”—or caims, a Gaelic word that meant “encompassing” (pronounced “kyme”). 

Circle me, Loving Friend, tonight as I lie on my bed.
Draw a circle around my busy mind.
Keep worries out, keep Your peace within.
Circle all those I love.
I trust them to Your love.

(from Earth Afire with God: Celtic Prayers for Ordianry Life)

I have to remember that I do not dwell in the centre of this prayer. God is the centre, not me. If I were to point to where I exist, I might be anywhere from close to dead centre, to somewhere in the Light, to way off the edge of the circle. 

Yesterday I sat down with an official at my bank and worked over my student loan. Monthly payments… for nearly 6 years. This doesn't include the payments for undergrad or my post-grads. Yeah I know my profs always encouraged us to see our education as investments rather than debts. But that gets difficult when I work in a job that seems to eek out a living, rather than assure me of a future.

Voluntary poverty is a gift that keeps on giving.

I want to be more like Jesus, Henri. I want to live like He did, live out the Sermon on the Mount, dwell in times of prayer and practice, be radical in love, and all those noble sounding things. And I know in a lot of ways many people are pursuing the same things in different lifestyles. As it stands, I've always been content in the 'helping jobs' that I've had since coming to adulthood. I don't regret a single vocational choice one bit. It's just that… these jobs often come paired hand-in-hand with a lifestyle of voluntary poverty. 

There are things I want to do. Places I want to go.

I'd love to be able to pay off that crazy student loan in a few months.

I'd like to have a job that would offer me a reasonable prospect of owning a house. Coming Home seems to rest on the need for a house and, as it stands, I will never be able to afford one.

I want to be able to leave the continent for a few months — a year even — and find a place in Wales, take a sabbatical, pursue Celtic Christianity more deeply, sit by the coast, up in Snowdonia, hop a train and see other places in Scotland and England. Ireland will definitely be a destination point, and all those islands… wow.

I want to go back to Romania and haunt some of the places that still haunt me.

I want some assurance that I might have a liveable income when I get old. I don't intend to retire (which is a positive in this vocation: no such thing as "retirement"), but I probably won't be able to go at the pace that I do now.

I… want money.

Not a lot.

Okay… $16,000 would cover my student loan.

$30,000 would be a nice down payment on a mid-size, older home.

A few thousand would go a long way towards my spiritual pilgrimage.

A fistful of cash would get me to the wilds of the Carpathian Mountians.

A nice raise would allow me to purchase some RRSPs or make some investments.

Rich Mullins did it. But Rich got rich and went back to being poor. He had resources to draw from.

“Addiction" might be the best word to explain the lostness that so deeply permeates society. Our addiction make us cling to what the world proclaims as the keys to self-fulfillment: accumulation of wealth and power; attainment of status and admiration; lavish consumption of food and drink, and sexual gratification without distinguishing between lust and love. These addictions create expectations that cannot but fail to satisfy our deepest needs. As long as we live within the world's delusions, our addictions condemn us to futile quests in "the distant country," leaving us to face an endless series of disillusionments while our sense of self remains unfulfilled. In these days of increasing addictions, we have wandered far away from our Father's home. The addicted life can aptly be designated a life lived in "a distant country." It is from there that our cry for deliverance rises up.” -Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming

I can't serve God and mammon.

I will hate one or love the other.

Right now, I can honestly say that I hate money. I hate that money consumes so many of us, and… that money doesn't seem to find it's way to me. A little bit torn here, Henri.

But when I remember that God encircles me… when I remember to pray these caims… when I remember that God is eternal and, even edge of centre, I will be so as well… I remember again that money won't create the hope or relief or satisfaction that I often believe it would. God has placed me within the deepest parts of this circle — one that knows no end in any respect.

One day, though. Wales. A girl can dream, can't she?

Until next time, Henri,


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