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June 2009

Celebrating life with Celtic spirit

By Marie Sherry

Christchurch Presbyterian minister and author John Hunt’s new book We Celebrating People aims to bring back the tradition of rituals and help people celebrate the good in their lives.

The book is John’s third. All three works are inspired by Celtic spirituality, and follow John’s first visit to the isle of Iona in Scotland 11 years ago.

"When I was at school my reports often had ‘John could do better’. I remember groaning and thinking ‘how good do you have to be?’ I think many of us have had our spirit damaged by that kind of expectation," he says.

"You can come at life as a struggle and some of us, because of our upbringing, find ourselves with that feeling about life.

"The church has taught us that we struggle through this life and if we’re good we have our reward in the next life. The Celtic belief is that the world is a good place and people are kind and the present moment is to be enjoyed. We know God and know God’s love and we don’t have to look anywhere else."

John believes many of the small daily rituals enjoyed in the past have been lost from modern life.

"In the past I think we’ve had a number of rituals that have helped us through difficult times and enabled us to celebrate happy times. With the exception of birthdays we seem to have lost most of our rituals. I offer little rituals to celebrate moments through the day.

"After rituals through the day I have written rituals for the life journey to celebrate a conception and a birth, first day at school, first pay packet, puberty and so on. They are small rituals that are easy for people to achieve."

John says We Celebrating People challenges the view that people are born sinful and that the world is not a good place.

His first book, We Spirited People, was published 10 years ago and celebrates the resilient human spirit, while encouraging readers to get back up from the knocks they take in life and keep going.

"The Celts remain a laughing, story telling, singing, dancing people. I explore with people that spirit," John says.

His second book, We Well People, promotes the concept that people should be in tune with the natural world.

"When we’re engaged with the natural world, with the seasons and rhythms, we are engaging with God the Creator and our spirit is nurtured to make our way through life’s tough times to better times ahead."

John has received positive feedback on his books, with one reader saying We Spirited People enabled him to help his daughter recover from profound depression.

We Celebrating People has been published by the Caxton Press in Christchurch and is available through select booksellers throughout the country.