Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More on dancing bishops: Celtic spirituality

The video from New Hampshire I posted earlier this week showing dancing bishops is a reminder, in a way, of our Celtic roots. Betsy's comment on that post mentioned visiting the amazing abbey at Iona, Scotland, and seeing the bishop dance. Truth be told, bishops dancing is very Celtic. In the earliest centuries of Christianity in Britain, the dominant spirituality was Celtic, and it was fluid, dynamic, with leadership more defused among men and women, and a spirituality that found God in the "thin places" of mountains and rivers. And full of  dance and story telling.

Yesterday was the feast day of Hilda of Whitby (614-680), an abbess who was the dominant figure of Celtic Christianity of her time. Her monastery included nuns and monks. And bishops who danced. 

If you look closely, you can still see evidence of the bishops who danced. The Cathedral at Peterborough, was founded in the Celtic age, and though badly ransacked and damaged in the 17th century English civil war, there is still much worth seeing. If you look closely, you will find small a stone relief embedded in a wall in the great cathedral. The relief is from the time of Hilda -- the 7th century. It shows two bishops, with miters atop heads, holding hands (or close to it). And they are dancing. I took this photo of the relief on a trip to Peterborough with Lori in 2003. Enjoy, and you will be dancing with the stars.

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