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Monk in the World Guest Post: Deirdre Ni Chinneide

We are thrilled and delighted to be releasing a brand new compilation of songs, curated from some wonderful musicians we know and love. These are songs for Celtic seekers as they are inspired by the tradition of pilgrimage in Ireland and accompany Christine’s newest book which will be released in September 2018 from Ave Maria Press – The Soul’s Slow Ripening: 12 Celtic Practices for Seekers of the Sacred. For six weeks we will be featuring the musicians from this album who so generously agreed to share their beautiful music with our community for this project.

Next up is Deirdre Ni Chinneide who wrote several songs for the Abbey. Read her whole reflection below and to hear a clip of the songs go to the album page at CDBaby here>>

Singing the Heart Home.

There is always a time for me , when  music calls for a stillness and a listening out of which a sound , a song , a prayer or a chant will emerge . It brings  with it an invitation to express from a deep place, which I often refer to as  the wisdom of the well of our own  heart. In the Celtic tradition , the well was seen as a place of deep healing, held in the womb of the earth and a place to which pilgrims journeyed through an ancient tradition called Na Turais. Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands and  steeped in Celtic heritage, is the place where I live and facilitate  retreats in Celtic Spirituality .

It is my heart place, where the silence and landscape of the island open a doorway  to the richness of the Celtic Christian tradition. I sing oscail mo chroi (open my heart) during meditation, to  announce that I am listening to the stirrings of the Divine, making its felt presence known, in the singing and the silence between the notes and words. It has been a prayer all of my life and it is a piece that has been sung throughout the world. It touches my heart to know that this piece speaks deeply to people especially at challenging times in their lives.

These prayer chants  that I compose, have helped me through my own challenging and difficult times and  in their singing, encourage a movement to trusting and surrendering to the presence and the work of the Divine through all. The chant Surrender encourages us to let go, especially in the hardest of times and to enter in to the embrace of Love that will hold and bring us towards a softening and deepening of the heart. The term   Stór  is a charming Irish word used to lovingly address a child. Like little ones, we are called to surrender to the holding and the loving that can accompany us on our pilgrim journey through life.

Inis Mor is steeped in monastic energy.  The presence of ancient men and women who sought solitude and natural beauty to support their journey, is in the very fibres of the island. The landscape holds that sacredness to this very day. Living here in community, the place offers a sacred space to listen in contemplative prayer,  music and silence.  That  memory and presence is a music that begins the day at dawn and plays lyrically in the natural wonders of this magnificent island. I tried to capture that in the chant, I am here listening for you . . . not just that we are listening but that we are also being listened for. The Celtic Tradition holds strongly the belief that at certain times of the year, the veil between worlds is thin and the sound of our ancestors flows gently between this and the spirit world. Sharing this chant with others, particularly at times of bereavement and loss, has offered hope and a sense of loved ones being near in spirit.
Music is a language that throughout my life, has called me deeper in to the heart of who I am and can be and it is humbling and a great privilege to sing with others, through performance, retreat and ritual. All our voices are needed to harmonize with a sound that can create great beauty in the world. There are times when the creative well runs dry and the way seems dark and uncertain. Even in the midst of such darkness, the invitation has always been to be still and listen, trusting that in time, the open heart will reveal itself .

I hope that in this opening (oscail mo chroi), you the listener, will trust the surrendering, knowing that the wisdom of your own heart will reveal what is waiting, longing and listening for, as you return home, to the gift and beauty of who you truly are !

To the sound of the Song,
From somewhere far beyond.
Carried on the breath
That brought you into its First Cry.
New Born.
Here I am.
Look, listen, touch, taste.
Move and Mirror.
Stand in this place,
Like you are here again,
For the first, last and eternal time.
Hear . . .
I Am.

Trained as a psychotherapist spiritual director and workshop facilitator, Deirdre Ni Chinneie has worked all over Ireland, the U.S.A and Europe including Bosnia and Kosovo. Deirdre divides her time between the Aran Islands and the mainland offering retreats, workshops and performances  of Spiritual Music. The Aran islands with its unique history, culture and natural beauty provides a special setting for her retreat work and was the place of inspiration for Celtic Passage, a cd of music and song exploring   a journey of the heart, which Deirdre leads through music, reflection and prayer.

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