How shall we proceed into the New Year? Timothy Jones (1955 – ), the author of A Place for God, provides helpful insight. In the following excerpt, he describes the radical commitment of early Celtic saints who embarked on a life of missionary service without worldly assurances or visible supports. Their faithful embrace of “peregrinatio” provides an inspiring example of the journey to which God calls his disciples:
The Celtic saints of earlier centuries made much of the idea of peregrinatio, a difficult-to-translate word that suggests an open-ended journey. It was not uncommon for medieval Irish monks to set out with no destination; they left with only the simple impulse to go and seek, guided by the Holy Spirit. Unlike the pilgrimages to shrines common to medieval lore, writes Esther de Waal, “there [was] no specific end or goal such as that of reaching a . . . holy place that allows the pilgrim at the end of the journey to return home with a sense of mission accomplished.” Rather, the idea was to learn to live as travelers, pilgrims, “guests of the world,” as sixth-century Irishman Saint Columbanus put it. There was to be a creative openness, even if that meant living in a kind of exile so as not to hold too tightly to one’s ambitions and spiritual itinerary. The idea was to leave behind the known and safe to find a truer basis for security.1
As we enter the New Year, may we do so more keenly aware of the One whom we follow and therefore proceed with a greater measure of faith.
Happy New Year!
1 Timothy Jones, A Place for God: A Guide to Spiritual Retreats and Retreat Centers (New York: Doubleday Image, 2000), 47.