Sunday, December 14, 2014

Reading from December 14

St Aidan Story

Celtic Knot, Part 2

Aidan gave thanks for the growth in the vocation of women to the religious life. It did seem to be a good way for royal women to have a position of their own. Hild, at thirty-three, decided to become a nun. Here truly was a jewel for the church. She was deeply committed to the way taught from Lindisfarne. She had thought of going to France, to the sisters at Chelles, to be a nun. It was as well that she had mentioned it to Aidan. He persuaded her that the church here needed people like her. If all the talent was going to the continent, how could the church here grow? Women’s communities, and mixed communities, needed people who were used to leadership, and who had been Christians for a good while. Hild had all the qualities needed, and more. Hild listened to Aidan and decided to stay. She went to establish a new monastery on the north side of the Wear. Within a year she had moved on to Hartlepool to replace the first nun in Northumbria, Heiu. Heiu was going further south to Tadcaster. All over Bernicia and Deira new communities were springing up. The land was being won for Christ.  . .

St. Hilda icon with her Abbess staff in her right hand and her Abbey in her left hand. By Nic Pappas

Aidan looked at the pattern (of the Celtic knotwork) and thought of how vibrant it was with movement and colour. He glanced at the written words on the opposite page, ‘Jesus est’. Once again everything vibrated, this time with sound. He could hear in his memory the brothers in prayer on the road. So often they started with ‘Jesus is’.  . . It is so important that each of us makes this discovery, that ‘Jesus is’. Aidan could hear it as clearly as if the brothers were with him. After he heard each statement Aidan again traced the pattern, rising with the words, and saying to the Christ after each statement ‘Have mercy upon us’:

‘Jesus Christ’
‘Jesus, Son of God’
‘Jesus, Saviour’
‘Jesus, Lord’
‘Jesus, Redeemer’
‘Jesus, Brother’
‘Jesus, Bread of Life’
‘Jesus, Light of the world’
‘Jesus, Door of the sheep’
‘Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life’
‘Jesus, the true Vine’
‘Jesus, the Way’
‘Jesus, the Truth’
‘Jesus, the Life’
‘Jesus, crucified’
‘Jesus, dead’
‘Jesus, buried’
‘Jesus, risen’
‘Jesus, ascended’
‘Jesus, King of kings’
‘Jesus, Lord of lords’
‘Jesus, the same today’
‘Jesus yesterday’
‘Jesus for ever’
‘Jesus before the foundation of the world’
‘Jesus here and now with us’
‘Jesus in eternity’

His own ‘Lord, Have mercy’ helped him travel past all the parts of the pattern that were going under. How like life, all these ups and downs, this weaving in and out. A peace was descending on Aidan, the sort of peace he felt each time he returned to Lindisfarne. There was a feeling of homecoming, of having been here before. Then he realized that he had followed the pattern around, and was back where he started. Yet, it was not the same, he had changed in his travels. As he looked upon the complex pattern, he knew that life was even more intricate than the Celtic design. He also saw that the pattern was endless, a symbol of eternity. For all its complexity, its ups and downs, this life is eternal. This is the gospel message, this is what helps us to rise. Aidan prayed that the island would be the place of his resurrection. He hoped that when he died he would be allowed to bless his brothers as Columba had blessed the community on Iona. He even wondered if one of the local horses might weep for him.

He was suddenly aware of the roaring of the sea and the piping of the oyster-catchers. He thanked God that he had been made so rich in people, that his life was so vibrant and colorful.

This extract is taken from 'Flame of the Heart' by David Adam and is reproduced by kind permission of SPCK. You can find the book here:

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