Listening for the Heartbeat

By Rev. Patrice Ficken, M.Div.

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“In the gift of this new day, in the gift of the present moment, in the gift of time and eternity intertwined….let us be open to what has never happened before.”
John Philip Newell

On the first morning of the School of Celtic Consciousness, I found myself in conversation with an unexpected partner. I stepped out of the meeting hall into bright July sunshine with an invitation to listen to my surroundings with more attention.

The gentle whirring of the cricket beckoned me from a patch of rusty, orange daylilies in full bloom. As I stepped closer, hoping to connect face to face, the cricket went silent, inviting me to do the same.

Finding listening partners, who are willing to be truly present and open to “what has never happened before” is not easy. The unrelenting pace of life with its noisy demands and barrage of voices, make it difficult to find the inner and outer space to listen to the shy stirrings of the soul, the sacred presence in all things.

John Philip Newell guides us toward this deeper listening. He invokes the listening posture of John the Beloved, who leaned towards Jesus and heard the heartbeat of God. John Philip invites us into conversations with voices from the Celtic stream, men and women whose lives reflect this listening posture. Through their words and knowing, we are called back to our essential nature, invited into sacred communion with the Earth and all of life.

When I finally stilled myself and crouched low to the ground, my listening partner, the cricket, resumed our dialogue. Soon, a dragonfly joined the conversation, then the wind, the lilies, the bees and the butterflies, delighting me with their cadence of poetry and song.

Rev. Patrice Ficken, M.Div. is a spiritual director and ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She has shared her poetry at the New England School for Celtic Consciousness with John Philip Newell in which she has been a participant since the School’s 2016 launch at Mercy by the Sea. You can learn more at


beats to a different rhythm
in concert
with ocean waves
lapping to shore
one by one
moment by moment
day by day
Never ceasing
the Yes of the Universe
Love without limits
The tenacity of Life
Eternally unfolding
New beginnings in each breath
with every beat
New life always here
asking for a midwife
to bring it forth
Heart knows the freshness
the gift of each new day
Beats with all hearts
Resonant with the Earth
the very pulse of the Universe
Heart asks only
to be remembered and felt
for a Deeper Listening
a Deeper Knowing
Breathe in and feel
the steadiness
the Devotion
the Love
the Selfless Service
of the Heart
Its never ending
Song of Gratitude

Patrice Ficken, Mercy By The Sea, July 13, 2017

Dedicated to John Philip Newell
and the New England School of Celtic Consciousness, Year 1