Belonging to Borders: A Sojourn in the Celtic Tradition
By Bonnie Bowman Thurston, (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press)
Part poetry, part history, and part autobiography this small book is far more than even all three put together. As reflected in the title this work is a sojourn in the Celtic Tradition but it is more than a mere account of Dr. Thurston’s experience with that spirituality. It is much more than a rich collection of beautiful poetry. And it is more than a guide into a deeper spiritual awareness. These pages transport the reader into a way of seeing and being in this world.
As historian and guide into this world of mystery and grace Dr. Thurston first tells her own story, demonstrating how knowing who we are in this world is often discovered in knowing where and who we came from. Next, in an age where the Celtic Tradition has been popularized and in some instances trivialized Dr. Thurston recalibrates the ancient wisdom of this spirituality by first introducing and paying homage to its saints, and then by guiding us to some of its sacred spaces. The beauty of this sojourn for the reader is that we meet these saints and visit these spaces through the inspired poetry of the author. From the drama of Saint Patrick to the sacrifice of Columba the figures of Celtic history are enlivened in these poems. The sacred spaces come alive as well in poetry that kneels in the holy cathedrals and humbles itself at the sight of a rabbit sitting in a garden.
“Belonging to Borders” takes us to the borders of our own experience reminding us to notice the mysteries of our own reality and to pause at the limits of our own awareness. In this sojourn our borders are extended, these poems become prayers and our hearts are lifted.
Reviewed by Dr. Jack B. Holland, Academic Dean and Russell F. and Marian J. Blowers Chair of Christian Ministries.