So what are we talking about? Are we about to shave our heads, don habits, wimples and float around like penguins – now that would be a sight!! We aim to ‘live simply, love well’ and draw on the heritage of Celtic Christianity in Wales.
It might help if we each said something of how we came to this point –
Karen: For a number of years now I have been exploring different facets of the Christian Celtic tradition. One aspect of leading Antioch over the last twenty or so years aspect has involved Peregrinati – journeys wandering for the love of God in this nation, and the nations.
I embraced the adventure of walking, travelling at times on my own, and also with small teams. I have a particular heart for the poor, and for those on the margins who have not as yet encountered Jesus, these values were deeply embedded in the Celtic Church, and I believe are also embedded in Antioch as a Church Community.
Importantly women were also able to play significant roles in expressing their faith.
I also, personally, found a resonance with the creativity expressed in different elements of the Celtic Church. The High Stone crosses were billboards of faith often telling Bible stories carved into the stones, whilst the book of Kells, shone in the beauty of its calligraphy and playful design. The Celtic Saints, had a deep reverence for creation, and often preached using the natural world as an example. I resonate with the mix of an earthy faith, wrapped up in heavenly encounters. A current project is writing a book with Deb which will focus on engaging with traditional and contemporary spiritual disciplines, as a means of tending our faith and encouraging ourselves and others into fresh adventures of faith. I am excited by where this might lead!
Deb: In 2015 I had a growing sense of wanting to express my love for Jesus more deeply and honour Him more and release generational blessings that flow from who He made me to be.
There had also been some resonance with an article I had read in a national newspaper about the increase of young women becoming nuns. In conversation with friends later in the year I recounted my 2 weeks in a Lutheran convent (Evangelcial Sisters of Mary) in Darmstadt, Germany led by Basilea Schlink. It was 1976, I was 18 and I went on my own, with no language or contacts and leaving concerned parents behind to find out more. It was a special place where I learnt a rhythm of prayer and work, experienced the deep reality of the cross, repentance and for the first time heard the audible voice of God.
Looking back through 2015 there was a theme developing (I have since discovered that Pope Francis declared 2015 a year to celebrate the Consecrated Life). During an encounter with Jesus in the summer He asked me to let Him be my husband. As a single person for almost 60 years this was a vulnerable moment. For me the only thing I had left to surrender to Him was my body as an act of worship and so I said, “Yes.” In conversation with Karen I realised that if I was to mark this in any way I would need a monastic order to belong to. We agreed, and the leadership team agreed that we would start exploring what this might look like as part of the life of the community at Antioch. It feels like a next step in connecting with the Celtic Monastic inheritance in Wales and living it out in present culture.
We are hoping to tell the story of this journey here through a variety of mediums, writing in the Welsh and English languages, art, poetry, film, and photography.