Monday, January 26, 2009

Book Review - Border Lands by David Adam

David Adam was previously Vicar at Holy Island (Lindisfarne), Northumberland. He has written numerous books on Celtic Spirituality which he and the residents of Holy Island live out in their daily lives..

He has written extensively on the Celtic Saints and composes his own Celtic prayers. His book, Border Lands, is sub-titled "The Best of David Adam's Celtic Vision".

He starts out by discussing the "marginal lands" of Holy Island and goes on to talk about the fact that we often live on "the edge of things" and that this experience is a call to explore and experience all that God has for us to see and do. In the introduction to the book, he quotes T.S.Eliot's Little Gidding:

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."

Using the words from that great Celtic hymn, Be Thou My Vision, Adam leads the reader through some experiences from his own life and what he has learned. He invites us to consider for ourselves how these words resonate within our own lives and what we can learn.
For example, in the passage "Be all else but naught to me, save that thou art" (pg. 83), Adam writes, "There is something in human nature that makes us all seekers. Whatever we achieve, we feel that we should be able to go on to other things. None of us can live for long off past glories. Most of us have this feeling that life can be improved on. We seek something that is still beyond us, an inner urge makes us explorers."

Before my conversion to Roman Catholicism, I too was "seeking." Although a Christian most of my life, (living with doubts and questions), I felt that there had to be "more." What that more was, I did not know. But as time and prayers went on, I began to be discouraged and frustrated that I would never find the "more" that I was seeking. Where to look? And what was I looking for? I was unsure.

In the Arthurian legends, the Knights of the Round Table go out on a "quest" for the Holy Grail. They encounter obstacles, pitfalls, set-backs on their journey. They learn that 'to whom much is given, much is required." (Luke 12:48)

I began to see that my own 'quest' would require much: hard work, study, struggle, conflict.

Adam writes, "The quest for the beyond, for the Pearl of Great Price, for the Holy Grail, for hidden treasures, is part of the literature of all mankind: the symbols may differ but the quest remains the same. In every quest there is a desert to cross or a jungle to conquer, there are always untold dangers."

"...(but) it is in searching that we grow, in triumphing over the desert that we shape ourselves and show what we are made of."

My 'quest' lead me to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. One quiet Friday afternoon during a Lenten Holy Mass, He spoke to my heart, "Do you see Me now?" "Yes, Lord, I see You", I responded. I became a Catholic in my heart that day and officially joined the Roman Catholic Church at Easter Vigil 2005.

For me, His Real Presence in the Eucharist is the Pearl of Great Price, the 'hidden treasure' of the Church; His cup of Precious Blood is the Holy Grail. This was the 'more' I had searched for; what I had 'quested' for had been found.

This is how Adam's words: "We seek something that is still beyond us, an inner urge makes us explorers" speak to me.

Read Border Lands. Meditate upon the words and stories David Adam shares and become "questers" in this exciting, but often daunting, world of Celtic Spirituality.

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