Copyright (C) 2000 by William Mistele. All rights reserved.
Christianity has transformed the world in part through the compassion of its practitioners. It has also committed blunders of equal magnitude from the abuse of its power. But by the nature of my story, I am compelled to offer a mystical fable about an individual who has spoken directly with God and enjoyed His Presence.
There are many candidates from whom I might have drawn--e.g., St. Patrick, St. John of the Cross, St. Francis of Assisi, and even Pope Leo. But when I search the mind, the heart, and the spirits of these individuals I have no doubt that Columba accomplished this task--for God had set before Moses the design of a tabernacle hoping that mankind might in the end find Him rather than celebrating and worshiping in the work of man’s hands.
And Solomon, whose wisdom was beyond human understanding and who served God’s purposes, he too failed to attain to God’s Presence. And so Solomon, externalizing his religion, upgraded the tabernacle of Moses, by building a great temple to “house” God in Jerusalem. And men still fight over this temple’s location 2,700 years later as if a holy site, a relic, or an artifact could substitute for or offer a clue to the Presence that waits to be discovered in each individual’s heart.
In the age which begins with the birth of Christianity, God no longer speaks with and through prophets and seers as He had done during the times of the Old Testament. No longer are there schools for prophets in the desert. No more unwilling prophets like Jonah are swallowed by a great fish; no longer flamboyant prophets like Isaiah who wander for three years naked as a reminded of how the elite of Egypt would be lead into captivity; no longer prophets like Elijah who call down fire from the sky to destroy armed forces attempting to seize him.
Instead, Christianity seeks to capture the essence of the pagan mysteries as summarized in this sentence: Except a seed fall to the ground and die it cannot bring forth new life. And Christianity seeks the essence of Judaism as well as Jesus has summarized the first two commandments: Thou shall love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself. The pagan mysteries and the Covenant are combined in Christ’s sacrifice--the Gospel is the story of an individual who willingly embraces God’s command to serve and who acts as God Himself would act if He had incarnated as a human being.
But the price for this new revelation is great. The voice of mighty prophets whose words would shake the earth and declare the fate of the nations--these men of faith depart and their voices are replaced by silence. This means no prophets, no tabernacle holding the Ark of the Covenant, and no official Temple built by a king with cosmic wisdom such as Solomon. But in this silence, in this wilderness and desert of the human heart, God is now free to speak directly to each man through his own conscience. Still, from time to time, the power and glory of God continues to shine within the life of various individuals. St. Columba is one of these.
It is the sixth century AD and the Celtic church stands independent and free of external authority. Though surrounded by violence and though illiteracy nearly came to dominate all of Europe, in Ireland both saints and scholarship flourish.
Here there is no papal supremacy. The cup is not withdrawn from the congregation for the celebration the Lord’s Supper, for transubstantiation is unknown. No priest is required to make intercession with God and there is no priestly confession. Administrative decisions are made through synodal assemblies rather than from top down through a ecclesiastical hierarchy. But most of all, the Word is communicated in the language of the people.
This is the Celtic Church. It has more spirit of Reformation than the Reformation itself which comes a thousand years later. The Reformation, with its ceaseless bickering and in fighting, has a bad habit of complying with the demands of nationalism and acting as the cheerleader for capitalism.
Still, the sixth century is a time and place when some druids, in worshiping the sun, see in Christ the Lord of Light come down to earth in mortal form. And Christian priests, such as Columba, train in the ancient manner of bards spending seven years in darkness to perfect their art. Indeed, in these brief moments of the early church the great evangelists were bards and mystics. And the archangels themselves were not so distant that they were unwilling to appear when called.
Of the coming of Columba, St. Patrick and his disciple Maucta both prophesied. And the night before Columba's birth, an angel appeared to his mother. The angel said that her child would be reckoned as one of the prophets and would bring innumerable souls into the heavenly country.
Descended from kings on both his mother and father's side, Columba could well have become the next King of Ireland. But Columba's temperament was not only suited for the role of political leadership. While still young, he became active in founding new churches.
And then one day, in secret, Columba completed with his own hand a copy of a Latin version of an unknown Gospel Book in which the phrases were more clearly stated-- “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made....”
The book Columba copied belonged originally to Columba's teacher, St. Finian of Moville, who had brought the book back from Rome. But St. Finian had died and the current owner demanded Columba's copy be returned. You see, the church, right from the beginning, was not always so pure it did not fall into being obsessed with ownership, authority, and monopoly. And so, when asked to intervene, the High King Diarmid of Tara judged against Columba. Respect for ownership and property are required if society is to remain stable and governed by order.
But Columba felt that no man on earth has the authority to constrain, bind, or conceal the Word. It was this book copied by Columba which would later be known as the “Cathack,” the Battle-book. It would be taken with armies into battle for a thousand years.
And so in defiance of the High King, Columba gathered his clan. But before the coming battle, the Archangel Michael appeared in a dream to Columba in response to his prayers. The Archangel offered Columba complete victory.
Now just for the record, let me say something about archangels, evocation, and spirit communication. Not long ago, I asked a Carmelite priest, a member of a prophetic order of the Catholic church, if he had ever considered calling an archangel such as Michael. His reply was that he would have to get permission from the bishop and the bishop would think he was crazy to ask.
But men like Columba understood that the conscience is not something you ever surrender to someone else’s authority. In fact, Columba had astonishing powers to call any spirit in our solar system and it would come and hold conversation with him. Much has been made of Merlin’s magic but Columba’s powers in evocational magick could have made a thousand Merlins green with envy. Columba’s ability was a gift that God had granted him.
Back to our story. In return for rendering assistance in battle, the archangel Michael said Columba would have to go into exile from his beloved Ireland, for God delights not in war and slaughter. God seeks those who, in the stillness of their hearts, will listen to His voice speak. Only within hearts attuned to stillness is Peace established on earth and the vision revealed of a world full of God's glory.
Columba felt deep pain as he considered the prospect of exile, but he agreed to pay the price. Columba was vehement about this. While still dreaming, Columba said to the archangel: “The Word of God may not be bound or chained by the greed of priests or the rule of kings.”
And of the battle of Coldrevny men later said that the archangel Michael stood and fought by Columba's side. Of those with Columba, only one man was killed and then only because he had violated a sacred taboo. Those who fought to defend the judgment of the High King suffered defeat and three thousand dead.
Again for the record, let me say something about this battle. The Irish as I am sure you know have not been lucky when it comes to wars or political will. But as Columba drew his sword that day, the archangel, though invisible to mortal eyes, spread his wings over the entire army.
In a later time such as ours when science fiction has replaced magical tales, a journalist for the Associated Press might have said, “It was as if a force field surrounded every one of Columba’s soldiers.” But I think it is more accurate to say that Michael exerted a divine enchantment. For Columba’s army, time was altered. The opposing army of the king, by comparison, seemed to move in slow motion. Or if you were nearby watching the two sides, you might say that Columba’s army was fully awake and the other side acted like they were drowsy or had fallen asleep.
And finally, if you had cameras mounted upon helmets and sending live video feed to anchormen through satellites, just about everyone watching would later say that the king’s men looked haunted, confused, and bewildered. You could see it in the mouth and in the eyes. The muscles of the face had grown soft and the eyes were all dark as if they knew they had already lost. Whereas with Columba’s men--it is as if the light of the sun was burning in their eyes. There was no doubt, no hesitation, and fatigue never set in. They fought as if it was God who was commanding them.
But now, the victory behind him, the time comes for Columba to depart from his beloved land even as the archangel foretold. Columba must leave behind his clan, the churches he has established, and all those with whom he is joined in love. Columba is set to sail from Derry in the year 563 with twelve disciples.
The ship is ready. It is a coracle of wicker and hides. Though in appearance fragile and not at all good at sailing against the wind, in the hands of a skillful man it will accomplish its purpose.
Columba now turns and gazes upon the green hills of Ireland which he is to leave behind. And of the pain and grief he feels with this separation, Columba now speaks aloud:
“Light dances in images of delight before my eyes. The sounding sea sings in my ears. The flowing wind touches my skin with impatience, beckoning me to set sail. In gusts and sighs it cries: ‘Let go the past. Embrace this moment with all your heart. Journey forth unafraid.’
“But standing here I pause. To step off the shores of Erin and depart is to die while yet living. In pain, my soul has fled from me and hidden where I cannot find it. I still breathe the air. My heart still beats within my chest, but my spirit has gone from me.”
Columba steps into his craft and begins his journey. He must find an island from whose highest point Ireland cannot be seen. And so, days later, after leaving behind the tiny island of Oronsay from where Ireland still appears, Columba again boards his craft and continues his search and lonely exile.
But just before the Isle of Iona appears across the sea, Columba turns the helm of the craft to one of the other crew. Something is stirring him from within, like a gust of wind--a skillful sailor can sense it before it touches waves or skin. Columba rises and walks to the bow and scans the horizon. But it is on the other side of the craft that Columba’s eyes are caught by a mirage at first and then a full-scale vision. Columba sees Christ walking by the port side just abreast of the bow waves. Two months later, after beginning to settle in to their new home, Columba takes a pen and recalls this moment as he composes this poem:
Within a wilderness of waves
The wind parts
Where the Wanderer walks
He pauses beside my craft
He turns, his hand upon my shoulder, and says:
“Like you, I too surrendered my kingdom
For the sake of a quest
Like you, I too was
Lost and abandoned
Alone and forsaken
I too walked through darkness
I too became empty
That I might be filled to overflowing.
I embrace the spirit of the journey
In each step I take I breathe in the air,
I celebrate life, I sing of beauty.
The winds and the rain,
The elements do not make me weary
They object not to my quest
They know I am protected
Though I am cloaked in darkness,
My movement as silent as the night's
My emptiness so vast
The stars fall sleep in my palms.
And yet, I dance
In the wind and rain and in all the elements
Their light shines in my eyes
Their songs strengthen me
Because in my heart I know
Every journey and moment of life are sacred
In silence and stillness is seen:
The beginning and the end,
The path, the quest, the journey, the coming home--
I join them all within me
Deep peace of the Earth is upon me--
It is part of the art of who I am.
If you would accept Me into yourself
Be still within
And know this:
With the trees, the rocks, the clouds,
The streams, the tender grass--
I am one with them all,
Not the faintest trace of separation
Exists within my soul.
So though it appears to others my journey
Takes me into the cold heart of the unknown
I am never alone.
I am the Sojourner
Who in each moment
Life and Love greet me anew
And welcome me home
As an old friend.
As the vision of Christ fades and the resonances of that Voice are replaced by a rising wind and a surge of waves, Columba spies the Isle of Iona across the eaves, “Li-shona”--the Holy Island. Seventy miles from Ireland, Iona is three and a half miles long and at most a mile and a half wide. Also known as Isla Nan Druidneach, the Isle of the Druids, Iona is of great antiquity and quite different from the surrounding islands. In geologic terms, the rocks of Iona were formed before life began on earth somewhere around 2.8 billion years ago.
Exposed to the Atlantic and shaped by the erosion of wind and waves, the Western coast of Iona is a mixture of bays, caves, small outcrops, and heartlands. It ranges from sharp cliffs, to graceful sandy beaches, to columns of cut rock resembling the ruins of Greek temples.
To the East is a calm Sound which, on windless days, captures the blue sky in its depths. A mile across the Sound, the rusty red shores of Mull Island amplify the enchantment of sunset. Dun-I is the highest point on Iona rising to 332 feet. A small distance from the summit to the West beneath an overhanging rock, is a dark pool called Tobar na h’Aoise--The Well of Eternal Youth.
Columba lands his craft at Port a’Churaich, Port of the Coracle. He then climbs the nearby Carn Cul ri Eirinn, Cairn of the Back to Ireland. It is from this vantage point that he determines that he is beyond the sight of Ireland which now lies seventy miles in the Southwest. He then buries his craft beneath the small, round stones of the beach.
Here Columba establishes his colony assuming the roles of abbot, priest, and administrator. The years and freezing winters are a mixture of intense solitude and heart felt desire to communicate the Word. There are many stories from this period about Columba for one of the best biographies written in this age is about the life of Columba.
For example, soon after Columba’s arrival on Iona, three druids come demanding Columba leave their Island. They wish to engage Columba in magical combat. But Columba's response is to welcome them with good cheer and invite them to dinner. The druids choose to leave frustrated and outflanked. It is most difficult to pick a fight with a man of great power whose heart is committed to peace.
Of course, the modern druids tell the above story in another way. They say that Columba, himself a bard, was welcomed by the druids since they saw him as one of their own. Nonetheless, Columba did have run ins with other druids. For example, Broichan was the Chief Druid to King Brude, king of the Picks. Broichan told Columba that when Columba next sailed, the winds would be contrary and storms would come upon him. Columba replied, “The omnipotence of God rules over all things....”
When Columba was ready to set sail, a crowd came down to watch the event to see whose magic would prevail. A storm arose and the winds were against Columba. But when the sails were rigged, the craft sailed off quickly and with even keel in spite of the winds. And then the winds changed direction to favor Columba and the rest of the day he was lead by a gentle breeze.
There are other stories in which Columba offers his personal sword to redeem a man from bondage or frees a woman whom a druid thought he could hold by the force of his magic. As we have seen in matters touching upon spiritual freedom, Columba was not a man who would ever hold back from accepting a challenge.
Even so, history tells us at night with a cold wind whipping the sea and penetrating into his solitary monk's cell, Columba prayed at times: “Oh god I am nothing. I am void. Yet in my emptiness I am here for you to fill.” And also: “I lie down in the dust and my spirit dies within me.”
It is one thing to set sail upon the sea or enter a battle courageously. To fight also for a kingdom or to lose it, these are the same actions compared to this journey: to venture alone into the depths of one's soul. And so Columba also wrote this lost Psalm which is not so difficult to understand, not so foreign or strange to our ears when we ourselves set sail in search of the secrets hidden in our hearts:
A Psalm of Praise
Who will sing this song:
The beauty of the heavens and the earth?
What voice will declare
The beauty and sacredness of our journey?
And who ventures in search of God's heart?
The nerves in my body
Are the strings of Your harp
And You do play upon them
My pain is deep
The notes You pluck with your fingertips
Lead me through horror and hell
They annihilate my soul
I pass through flames of despair
In absolute terror I cry
But your fingers play on
They pause not nor hesitate
So skilled are You
You call forth from emptiness and the abyss
From the darkest place that exists
A Song of Bliss
I am reborn through Your Love
Yet you penetrate further--to the core of my being
Beyond my imagination or power of mind to comprehend
To steal from me all that I am
You are the Thief whose purpose is Love
And you hold me in the palm of Your hands
I pass before Your eyes
Naked and alone
To make me part of Your Art of Creation
Lord of the universe
Where is this place you lead me
But the center of Your own heart?
Countless stars whirling in space
Flaming orbs dazzling bright
On countless worlds at dawn
Birds sing in praise of Your Glory
Who can contain such Joy?
And yet You play on
As the sower threads the eye of the needle
Even so you lead me
Through the center of every heart in creation
To show me that light and darkness
Suffering and joy
Separation and reunion
Are the threads of the tapestry
You weave into a Song of Beauty so great
The universe aches
And strives with all its might
To awake, to rise up
To lift up its voice and join with Your own
I can no longer distinguish my pain from Ecstasy
I open my mouth to speak, to cry aloud
But no sound comes forth--
Nothing of myself remains
Only Your Song
I ask of You, my Creator, only this:
May Your hands never cease
From playing upon these strings
For I awake, I rise up
From ashes, from nothingness
To walk by Your side
Through all the images of Creation
Like the prophets of old
I declare also:
All the earth is full of Your Glory.
History also records that Columba spoke these words--“Christ is my Druid, or, in a better translation, “my Druid, son of God,” from the Gaelic--“mo drui, macDe.” But less well known is the chanting which went on within Columba's community late at night. In voices soft, deep, solemn, yet melodic and filled with delight this song flowed and sank down to be absorbed by the land and the surrounding sea:
My Druid, son of God,
In Him do I trust;
This Light within my heart
No darkness can withstand
No fire can endure
No wind disturb
No water confuse;
My path His Righteousness
My Path His Peace
My path His Joy
My path His Love
History also records that Columba took to meditating on the Hill of the Angels--Cnoc nan Aingeal. You can’t miss it. The hill is right there to the South on your left as you walk on the main road across the center of the island. The Hill of Angels is also just in front of Sithean, the Fairy Mound. These hills were the center of pagan rituals in the Bronze and Iron Ages.
Columba's meditations there attracted the attention of angels passing in the distance who then came near and asked: “Who is this mortal who has turned his face away from the outer world to build a temple of God within his own body and soul?”
And other angels would answer: “This is the Dove and Wolf of the church: Like the Dove, his eyes shine with infinite peace; and like the Wolf, he hungers and stalks. He wants to know more than priests are willing to teach. The church has already forgotten that the Truth is only found by listening to God speak from within the stillness of the heart. But Columba is not as these. He quests in search of God Himself.”
And such was the power of Columba's meditation, on those days when no angel came to visit him, Columba knew that he was needed elsewhere--then it was time to turn his attention to the outer world and to whomever came to visit the island.
And the affairs of the outer world were attended to with great care as he interacted with kings and princes. Columba, though only rarely returning to Ireland, became honored as a kingmaker. Angels come to him in the night to guide his choice as to who is to receive his blessing as the next king. The fame of the Iona spreads from that time on through the years so that forty-eight kings of Scotland, four of Ireland, and seven of Norway will be buried right here in front of Columba’s monastery along with Norwegian monarchs and clan chiefs and nobles.
Toward the end of Columba's life, a few of his disciples witnessed how Columba shined with light so bright no candle was needed to light the room into which he entered. And, at times, even their eyes could not bear to look upon the brightness of his presence. Approaching a house at night with Columba inside, even the cracks in the walls burst forth with rays of light streaming forth and illuminating the surrounding darkness.
Columba, passing beyond the boundaries St. Paul had imposed upon himself, said there is no more need of belief once you have had the experience of the Kingdom. Near the very end, Columba said to his disciple and scribe Baithene that many mysteries have been revealed to him and that “I beheld His glory! He came Himself to me, and I abode with Him.”
Let us pause for a moment, for such words are easily passed over or ignored completely by theologians or ministers who never ventured forth to explore and chart the seas of the heart. Columba’s affirmation and fulfillment in attaining God’s Presence came only after a lifetime of service and also solitary contemplations. It was like this: in the decade before meeting God face to face, Columba would sit upon his hill or in his solitary cell and call out with these words, “Oh God.” And then he would sit still for hours on end as if waiting for God to come, for an acknowledgment, or for a response.
And as this decade drew to a close, when Columba said, “Oh God,” the meaning of the words changed. They no longer meant, “I am waiting for You to come to me, to come to me from so far.” Rather, they now said, “I surrender the purpose of my life and my desire to serve. They no longer have meaning in the Presence of Your Being. I surrender my name and my lineage. Who I am and from whence I have come are as nothing. I shall not use them as a barrier to prevent You from drawing near.”
We may wonder what else a solitary soul can do to let go beyond surrendering identity, desire, thoughts, beliefs, and doctrines. But Columba offered even more. Not long before encountering God, his words, “Oh God,” began to mean, “I embrace the abyss of emptiness and the void of darkness without fear, for these too are as nothing to You, the Creator.”
And then it came to Columba, the final realization. Columba sat on a rock on the beach not far from his monastery facing Mull Island. The sun set and in the twilight the cliffs of Mull began to burn as rays of red light played upon their slopes. The wind began to die. The white caps on the waves shrank and then vanished. A group of seagulls cried as a hawk flew through their midst around the bend.
Columba watched as darkness set in. He then watched the turning of the stars in the sky. The moon rose, reached her summit, and then began to descend. Sitting here for hours without thinking, just listening, it was in this moment that it came to him.
Columba spoke again the words, “Oh God.” But now he went on speaking aloud. “Why I have never seen this before? You are everywhere and in everything. The Joy is beyond comprehension. The wind is Your breath. The water is Your blood. The whole earth is full of Your love. Your heartbeat causes the sun to rise, the stars to shine, and all lovers to love.”
And during that night upon that beach on the East side of Iona, Columba attained what only a few in the history our race have so far attained--an inner union with God. And so when some would say that it was embellishment, fabrication, or too much praise when men report that Columba’s aura was bright enough to light up the night. But you see, Columba was no longer like you or me. The source of light and darkness both, the Creator Himself, was alive and thriving in Columba’s heart. Like I say, this was not belief or faith but direct and personal experience.
Like the taste of infinite peace, the Joy that causes the Creator to create, or the love that joins all hearts on earth--inner union with God is ecstasy beyond the power of words to describe. Unlike Balaam, Columba had no fear of this love.
And so, Columba found the kingdom of God within his soul, the place where he belonged. Columba would say that this Kingdom is here and now all around us. It is as near as our own heart and it is more real than any world into which we are born or from which we depart. When you return home and truly see it for the first time, as did Columba, you know in that moment beyond all doubt that the whole world is Divine.
Columba had spent a lifetime sharing the Word. He had established churches far and wide and guided many into the paths of a new faith. But the night before Columba departs from life, the bard within himself, the one who speaks the Word and not just repeats it for the sake of tradition, belief, or doctrine--the poet gets the upper hand and says aloud this poem of farewell:
When Death comes
May I greet him with a smile
As an old friend
I know his work, his commission,
I know how he guards zealously the sacred boundaries
Separating the living and the dead
I know these boundaries
I have crossed over them
For love I have died
Entering darkness with no guide
To find and clasp another's hand
To join with another's heart
To enter the Celebration
For which the universe was created--
The stars by night are the same
The same sun and moon do shine
But the sea is different
It has no shores
It winds are dreams and visions
Its waves are bliss and ecstasy
Its depths contain Eternity
And I have sailed upon it
My craft awaits me again
Impatient in its moorings
Its sails ready to hoist, to set, to trim
The helm awaits my hand
Soul companions are my shipmates
The fires of stars burning in their eyes
The songs of the constellations
Circle within their smiles
Joy dances in their hearts
But it is not my time to depart
My hands say,
“These palms still contain seeds of light
To be scattered upon the earth.”
My lips and tongue say,
“We taste the air--
It stirs, it whispers,
It hovers and drifts in restless gusts.
The air is pregnant:
Light and darkness
The turning of the year
The barriers separating all worlds grow faint
The gateways luminous--
The senses perceive invisible wonders
Beyond all natural boundaries
The Earth Herself is here
Waiting for us, her children,
To hear the Song--
To feel the Fire
To taste the Light
To touch the Joy
To embrace the Love
At the center of our hearts
At the center of the circle
At the center of the universe.”
Listen! Can you hear it?
The sound of countless spiraling stars
Whirling, spinning, colliding,
Sailing on celestial winds?
The wind in the leaves of the trees
The soft rustling
The caress tender
As sweet as any Lover
Her fingers running through your hair?
The sunlight the moon receives
And transmutes into kingdoms of dreams
Each night she sails upon the sea
And like the earth who carries her seeds
Within her visions I dance and sing,
Within her dream I meet my Beloved
Here, at Her touch,
The sun and moon themselves dissolve
Into a brighter light
Day and night join as one
The life animating plant, rock, animal, and tree
Human and Divine being
Returns to its source
To the seed at the center of the heart.
In a dark place
Revealing the distances separating and uniting all things.
I hear the Song.
In a solitude pregnant with love
Distances are overcome
And the stars draw near and greet me
As an old friend.
In the Footsteps of Columba
It is not my job to write an apologetic, that is, an argument for God’s existence or offer a reason for faith. I do not speak on behalf of Christianity. Christians do quite nice on their own and have no of need my voice.
Rather, it is my task to bear witness to the beauty of the universe and the love that called it into existence. For this reason, Columba is of significance. Let us pause, then, and state for the record precisely the path Columba has taken in entering God’s Presence.
These are the images and the realizations he attained not just through ritual and ceremony but in his own body and consciousness. To find them in yourself, see them, feel them, taste them, understand them, and make them your own.
And so, if we are to translate Columba’s practice into something for our age and world, it would be like taking a few minutes or more each day. Then you concentrate using your body, focusing great energy as if you are about to start a sport’s event in the Olympics. You concentrate with your heart so that in these moments all that exist is being a vehicle through which God’s infinite love can flow out to the world.
And concentrate your mind with the will of a king who rules over a nation and takes responsibility for the world. But now you turn your will inward and with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, you ask the Creator to commune with you and to dwell within you. In other words, you make time to “walk with God each day.” You prepare yourself and test yourself to dwell in the presence of God
Let us go a step further and attune ourselves precisely to Columba’s mind. His experiences are not private. They are there for anyone who combines the powers of spirit with good imagination. Let go of the idea of the past as being something done and gone. Instead, see Columba sitting right now at the top of Dun-I, the summit of Iona. As he gazes to the West, follow his eyes and see what he sees--a sacred chalice appears over the oceans of the earth. It contains the purest love, the blood of God, that flows through our blood.
Consider the image. Consider the oceans of the earth and the purest love. Taste, drink--open your heart so this love flows through your blood.
He gazes to the East and sees the air element that teaches us to rise up and to see with eyes as clear as the sky. But there is no cold detachment here. Columba remains fully committed, within, and a part of this world. Here is wisdom--responsibility that accepts and engages each moment as it is and which is also fully transcendent--in each moment, finding eternity within yourself.
He looks to the North. Here is the mystery of silence. Columba joins with this mystery that holds us all and unites us all as one. It is to be so still in your heart that the mountains themselves and the earth depart--they vanish away. And then all you wish to be and to become and to accomplish are perfectly clear so that you move toward your destiny without hesitation, worry, or fear.
And then, as he faces the South, He sees the fires of creation we see in the moon, the sun, and the stars--soft and luminous, hot and furious, or wrapped about with cold stillness--these fires are a song in each of our hearts. These illuminations of light guide us by night. These burning fire are an image of strength and delight. Purify your will and shine as bright and God will anoint you with His beauty and might.
At Columba's departure to the Other Side, the Archangels of the four quarters gathered over Iona to consider Columba's life. This is a fair rendition of their conversation during the sixth century A.D.; or perhaps, then again, this conversation took place before the foundations of the world were laid--one can never be quite certain in matters like this where the spirit runs so deep.
The first Archangel asks: “Are we not now free to reveal the keys to cosmic wisdom and open the gates to the Atlantean mysteries? Columba has fulfilled the Divine mission ordered for this age: Through his own initiative and out of faith, he has created a tabernacle within his soul and heart so that God can appear on earth. Columba has accomplished more than the prophets of old--without angelic intervention, through the power of his heart alone, he has seen with his own eyes that the world is full of God's Glory.”
And the second Archangel says: “In his youth, he hungered for more than the church was willing to teach. Tormented and tempestuous, his search led him to pass through the gates and discover Infinite Peace. Now others shall come forth as did he to find what they seek.”
And the third Archangel asks: “But where, then, shall we place the keys that they may be found on earth? I would relinquish this knowledge that belongs not to us but to these mortals who dwell in human form.
And the fourth Archangels says: “If we hide keys in the trees or the groves, they shall cut down the trees out of fear of the Wiccans and the Druids. And if we hide them in the standing stones, they shall break and cast down the stones out of fear of ancient darkness and evil. And if we hide them in the monasteries or churches, the church of Christ, out of jealousy and fear of competition, shall destroy them utterly from the face of the earth as they will one day do with all the libraries of the Incas.”
Now the first archangel speaks again: “Unless we are called, we may not appear. We must keep Silence for we are forbidden in this age to interfere. The keys to the Mysteries and the destiny of this race are for them alone to find on their own.”