A Prayer for Grace


The ageless mountains are full of your glory
the vast seas swell with your might
the shining skies expand beyond our imagining
so we pause to praise
we wait in wonder
we listen to learn
of the mountain glory within us
of the sea force in our veins
of love’s shining infinity.
Grant us the grace, O God,
to serve this inner universe of soul among us.
-from Praying With the Earth: A Prayerbook for Peace by John Philip Newell. Photo courtesy of Chuck Summers.

Christ is our Memory


One of the greatest teachers in the Celtic world, John Scotus Eriugena in ninth-century Ireland, taught that Christ is our memory. We suffer from the “soul’s forgetfulness,” he says. Christ comes to reawaken us to our true nature. He is our epiphany. He comes to show us the face of God. He comes to show us also our face, the true face of the human soul. This leads the Celtic tradition to celebrate the relationship between nature and grace. Instead of grace being viewed as opposed to our essential nature or as somehow saving us from ourselves, nature and grace are viewed as flowing together from God. They are both sacred gifts. The gift of nature, says Eriugena, is the gift of “being”; the gift of grace, on the other hand, is the gift of “well-being.” Grace is given to reconnect us to our true nature. At the heart of our being is the image of God, and thus the wisdom of God, the creativity of God, the passions of God, the longings of God. Grace is opposed not to what is deepest in us but to what is false in us. It is given to restore us to the core of our being and to free us from the unnaturalness of what we are doing to one another and to the earth.

Christ is often referred to in the Celtic tradition as the truly natural one. He comes not to make us more than natural or somehow other than natural but to make us truly natural. He comes to restore us to the original root of our being. As the twentieth-century French mystic-scientist Teilhard de Chardin says much later in the Celtic world, grace is “the seed of resurrection” sown in our nature. It is given not to make us something other than ourselves but to make us radically ourselves. Grace is given not to implant in us a foreign wisdom but to make us alive to the wisdom that was born with us in our mother’s womb. Grace is given not to lead us into another identity but to reconnect us to the beauty of our deepest identity. And grace is given not that we might find some exterior source of strength but that we might be established again in the deep inner security of our being and in learning to lose ourselves in love for one another to truly find ourselves.

-from  Christ of the Celts: the Healing of Creation by John Philip Newell. Photo by Chuck Summers.

A Prayer for Today | John Philip Newell

Be strong, O my soul,

Be strong this day

To face this moment and feel its pain

To cry with our mothers and weep for our daughters

To stand by our fathers and sons of colour

And defend our true brothers and sisters of the Qu’ran

To serve compassion rather than fear

To invoke wisdom instead of ignorance

 To elect humility over false pride

Be strong, O my soul,

Be strong this day

Be strong this day for love.


John Philip Newell

November 9, 2016JPN_(Iona_MN)

Board Member Transitions: An Abundance of Gratitude


Front row from left: Ben Lindwall, John Philip Newell, Robert McClellan. Middle row: Ali Newell, Margaret Anne Fohl. Back row: Frannie Kieschnick, Roy Barsness, Helenmarie Zachritz, Vanessa Johnson, Karin Baard, Steve Romeyn.

John Philip and Ali Newell nominated two people to join the Board of Directors: Karin Baard and Roy Barsness.

Karin was one of the scholars on the first Camino Peace Pilgrimage in 2014 and just finished co-leading a trip with Rob McClellan on the same route. She was also a participant in our Pilgrimage Training last summer. Karin is from Brunswick, Maine and works with women healing from domestic abuse. She is also fluent in Spanish.

Roy is a professor at the Seattle School of Theology and also a psychologist. He has brought two groups of students to be with John Philip on Iona. He has also organized multiple events featuring John Philip at the Seattle School. Roy is married with two children.

In his second year on the board, Steve Romeyn was elected chair, replacing Vanessa Johnson. Vanessa will stay on the board through next summer, fulfilling her term. John Philip and Ali expressed deepest gratitude to Vanessa for her leadership and guidance during her two years of service in this capacity. Steve moves into the position with extensive business experience as a property developer in the Atlanta Area and with membership on the board for Habitat for Humanity.

Finishing their terms, Helenmarie Zachritz of Española, NM and Mary Ann Bumgarner of Tulsa, OK were honored for their extensive work and guidance as early partners in Heartbeat’s formation. Mary Ann was one of the founding board members for the organization which was first known as The Friends of John Philip Newell and Helenmarie was the first paid director. She resigned and joined the board of directors when Ben Lindwall became Executive Director in 2013. Both Mary Ann and Helenmarie were given Celtic crosses from the Isle of Iona to commemorate their involvement.

Our Journey Forward

Image 11-3-16 at 11.17 AMOver a year ago the Heartbeat board launched a project to create a strategic plan to bring clarity and focus to the organization’s work. A survey was sent to Heartbeat supporters on February 15, 2016 in an effort to understand perception and hear feedback. A special committee convened in Palo Alto, CA on February 22, 2016 to lay a foundation for this process, led by consultant Ted Scott of Larkspur California. Ted was recommended by board member Rob McClellan because of his extensive experience in guiding churches, non-profits, and companies through change. He was instrumental in naming Heartbeat’s work and guiding the board on a path to move the process forward. After the initial meeting, Steve Romeyn, Ben Lindwall, and Ted Scott continued the process and worked with the entire board to make adjustments, understand, and commit to the plan that was being developed. The plan was then presented and approved during the Annual Board Meeting.

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During this process, it became apparent that it was time to update Heartbeat’s Identity Statements to more accurately reflect the work of the organization. The subtitle was slightly adjusted from “A Journey Towards Earth’s Wellbeing” to “A Sacred Journey Towards Earth’s Wellbeing”. We also developed new purpose, mission and vision statements. They are as follows:


Advancing the Celtic vision of John Philip and Ali Newell, listening for the heartbeat of the Sacred in all things.


Healing in the world by honoring the earth and strengthening relationship across faiths, nations, races, genders, generations, and economic divides.

Mission :

Expanding sacred vision, deepening spiritual practice, nurturing reflective community, and enabling action for change.

This guided the finalization of our strategic plan, which has three specific goals, each containing a list of strategies:

Advance the Celtic vision of John Philip and Ali Newell

  • Promote JPN Message
  • Promote JPN Events
  • Support Celtic Consciousness Schools
  • Promote Heartbeat activities

Foster engagement through pilgrimage and action initiatives

  • Develop action initiatives
  • Expand Heartbeat Pilgrimage Program
  • Develop Heartbeat Gatherings
  • Offer scholarships for pilgrimage, retreat and special projects 

Increase funding for operations, scholarship, pilgrimage, events, and projects

  • Solicit funds through letters, advertising, meetings and phone calls
  • Cultivate Heartbeat donor community
  • Grow new donor base
  • Win Grants

We expect this plan to bring clarity and focus to the work of Heartbeat as the organization grows and matures.

John Philip Newell Launches Schools of Celtic Consciousness in California, Colorado, New England, and Virginia

Iona SunriseJohn Philip Newell has launched an exciting new initiative, the School of Celtic Consciousness. Its purpose is threefold.

  1. To extend the study of Celtic spirituality
  2. To deepen spiritual practice
  3. To nurture reflective community and enable action for change

The School of Celtic Consciousness (SCC) will convene with John Philip Newell as teacher four times each year:

  • The California SCC (Winter)
  • The Colorado SCC (Spring)
  • The New England SCC (Summer)
  • The Virginia SCC (Autumn)

Each school will be on an individual three-year track. Participants are welcome to join at any point (starting during the first year, for instance, is not necessary). In 2017 the dates and locations will be as follows:

(Each of the regions will also host quarterly gatherings to nurture study, spiritual practice, community, and action.)

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John Philip Newell

For many years now John Philip Newell has been regarded as one of the most prominent teachers of Celtic spirituality. In a statement to Heartbeat he said, ‘We hope that the School of Celtic Consciousness will be a legacy of Celtic wisdom for today, to further enable the sacred work of healing and transformation in our lives and world.’


2017 Colorado School of Celtic Consciousness with John Philip Newell


Join us April 4-6, 2017 for an experiential time of learning, prayer, & chant rooted in the Celtic vision with acclaimed Scottish teacher, Rev. Dr. John Philip Newell at the beautiful Shambhala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado. 


John Philip Newell

This is the second annual gathering of the Colorado School of Celtic Consciousness, to nurture a community of shared vision and spiritual practice for transformation in our lives and world. Open to all, both to those who attended the first gathering in 2016 and those who wish to explore. Teachings will focus on the central themes of Celtic Spirituality, the sacredness of the earth and the human soul. And practices will concentrate on sustainable contemplative disciplines for individual wellbeing and collective healing.

Our daily schedule will consist of prayer at the beginning and ending of each day, presentations by John Philip Newell, followed by meditative practices, silence, and sharing. Meals will be shared in common and there will be free time to hike and rest as well as a party on the last evening to celebrate our time together.

Located in the Northern Rockies of Colorado,  The Shambhala Mountain Center is a peaceful retreat nestled between breathtaking mountain views. The event will be held in the main lodge with plenty of space indoors and outdoors for quiet reflection, and space to converse with old and new friends. We will gather at 4pm on Tuesday, April 4th and conclude after lunch on Thursday, April 6th. Space is limited so register soon!

Lodging options

Rates include retreat program fees, meals, lodging, and use of the Shambhala Mountain Center facilities. Due to accommodation constraints, all attendees are required to stay on-site. Click here for more information about the rooms at the Shambhala Mountain Center. Click here to register.

$418 – Lodge Dorm, shared room, twin bed, shared bathroom 

$494 – Lodge Double, shared room, queen beds (2), full private bath (enter roommate requests under “special requests”)

$534 – Lodge Single Monk, private room, full size bed, shared bathroom

$618 – Lodge Single (price for one guest), private room, full or queen size bed, private bath

(You may add up to one additional person to the Lodge Junior Suite for $284)

$726 – Lodge Junior Suite (price for one guest), private room, queen size bed, full private bath

(You may add up to one additional person to the Lodge Junior Suite for $368)

Registration instructions:

1. Enter your personal information

2. Select lodging option – you may register up to two people for the “Lodge Junior Suite” or the “Lodge Single”. After selecting either of these options, please fill out the guest information portion of the form and select the corresponding lodging option. “Lodge Double” is single registration only but you may request a roommate, or we can assign a roommate with a similar gender.

3. Enter your payment information via Paypal (select pay with debit or credit card if you do not have a Paypal account) or send a check to:

5431 NE 20th Ave
Portland, OR 97211


Questions? For event related questions, please contact Jan Silverstein at rjrace@earthnet.net. To inquire about registration, please contact Ben Lindwall at ben@heartbeatjourney.org 

Scholarship Funds Available


Are you in need of financial assistance? Our generous donor community has contributed funds to help people attend the Colorado School of Celtic Consciousness.

Heartbeat has six $318 Scholarship Awards available to go towards food, dorm room lodging, and program fees. Scholarship recipients are responsible for their own transportation to/from the event as well as the remaining registration balance of $100.

Apply by filling out the online application and have a letter of reference sent to Ben Lindwall (ben@heartbeatjourney.org) by December 14, 2016. Heartbeat’s Selection Committee will review all applications and notify successful candidates by January 9, 2017.

Reflections from The Northwest Coastal Pilgrimage: A Walk With the Earth

IMG_4524 “We turned an awe-inspiring place into a thin place.”

This was the reflection from Eric Conklin of Portland, Oregon, USA, one of the pilgrims on Heartbeat’s recent Northwest Coastal Pilgrimage. A group of 10 walked over 40 miles together along the Pacific Coast of Northern Oregon over the course of five days. We made our way through rainforests, fog, wind-driven rain, and across sunny beaches that seemed to stretch forever. The group studied John Philip Newell’s The Rebirthing of God, which provided a foundation for learning and discussion throughout the trip. Prayer practices were based on Celtic Treasure: Scripture and Daily Prayer as the group always began periods of silent walking with the ancient Celtic prayer:

The blessings of heaven

The blessings of earth

The blessings of sea and of sky

On those we love this day.

And on every human family

The blessings of heaven

The blessings of earth

The blessings of sea and of sky


The combination of relationship, experience of the earth, and spiritual practices further deepened the pilgrimage. Emily MacDonald of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada said, “The Pilgrimage was an amazing, beautiful experience. The times of silence and connection gave us an opportunity to meditate on a particular topic, and do some reflection about our thoughts with another participant. At all times I felt safe and secure with the group as we had meaningful discussions about various topics, such as Love, Healing, and Connections to the Earth.”

The pilgrimage also provided time to contemplate deeper life questions and opportunities to hold areas of brokenness or pain in our lives. “I was deeply touched by the honest, caring approach to the members of the Pilgrimage. I felt safe to express some of my deepest hurts and struggles… I feel stronger to continue my work as a palliative care nurse, and hope to continue to develop the skills to be the person I want to be each and every day, and still have self care and compassion for my own needs,” said Deb Banfield of Sutton, Ontario, Canada.

The pilgrimage was an important reminder of the wisdom that the Celtic World holds for our world today in helping us nurture our connection to the earth. Our “walk with the earth” is a response to the misunderstanding that we can somehow be well while ignoring the earth’s wellbeing. One of the most important aspects of our walk is the discipline of walking in silence. Alex Tish, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA said, “The unbelievably serene beauty of that nature we were in connected me with the rhythms of the earth more intimately. The crashing of the waves were a constant source of relaxation, as well as the deep fog that enclosed us on some mornings. When we would walk in silence, meditating on various concepts, looking around would inspire me to contemplate a connection with the earth further. “

On our last day of walking there was an extended time of silence and each pilgrim was asked to sit with the question, what role do I have to play in the healing of the earth? It’s heavy question to hold. But our intention is that the pilgrimage would lead each of us to some sort of transformative action.


The answers are many and vary from person to person. One of the pilgrims, Matt Smith of Portland, Oregon, USA, drives an electric car to work every day. He and his wife are on a minister’s salary, but the added expense was a sacrifice they were willing to make because it helped them live out their values. Eric does not even own a car and rides his bicycle wherever he needs to go, often with his five-year old son in tow. Deb is a gardener and shares her homemade jam with friends and neighbors, only asking for the glass jar to be returned when it is finished. Whether reducing carbon emissions by using an electric car, choosing bicycle transportation, or growing food in the backyard, each of us felt a call to answer this question with our lives.

The first step is relationship… spending time walking, singing, and in silence; wrapped in the beauty and power of the earth. And just like any other true relationship, the next step is to do something about it. Re-engaging this cycle is how an awe-inspiring place can turn into a thin place. It is how we find our part in the story and it’s our hope for the healing of the earth.


photoBen Lindwall is the Executive Director at Heartbeat: A Journey Towards Earth’s Wellbeing. Ben lives in Portland, Oregon USA where he and his family are caretakers in residence at the Arbor Lodge Urban Farm. He has been leading group experiences in various capacities for over a decade. Ben has been mentored by John Philip and Ali Newell over the past few years and is a certified Spiritual Director. He has been the Executive Director at Heartbeat since 2013, working with people from all over the world to advance a vision of healing, transformation, and peace. Coming from an evangelical Christian background and now like many of his generation, Ben considers himself spiritual (and a Christian) without any formal church membership. He and his wife Jen have been married for 13 years and have two young children.

Prayer for Creativity & Chant: You Shall Be Like A Garden” John Philip Newell, Rio Chama New Mexico

The Beat of the Sacred | John Philip Newell | Celtic Spirituality | Heartbeat

JPNewellbyAnnFowlerIt was on Iona years ago that I first became aware of the need to reclaim some of the features of ancient Christianity in the Celtic world as lost treasure for today. Part of that treasure is the much-cherished image of John the evangelist, also known as John the Beloved, leaning against Jesus at the Last Supper. Celtic tradition holds that by doing this he heard the heartbeat of God. He became a symbol of the practice of listening—listening deep within ourselves, within one another, and within the body of the earth for the beat of the Sacred Presence.

Do we know that within each one of us is the unspeakably beautiful beat of the Sacred? Do we know that we can honor that Sacredness in one another and in everything that has being? And do we know that this combination—growing in awareness that we are bearers of Presence, along with a faithful commitment to honor that Presence in one another and in the earth—holds the key to transformation in our world?

-Newell, The Rebirthing of God, 2014 (Skylight: New York) xvii.