Hilda, saint

Psalm 33 : 20
Our soul waits for the LORD; *
he is our help and our shield.

If I had to choose one hero or heroine in all of the Christian tradition it would have to be Hilda of Whitby (see http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/285.html)

She must have been a powerful woman of great depth to have been able to survive in the violence and manipulations of the church in her day.  She was somehow able to live, lead and breathe in the financial poverty of the Celtic tradition while facing the wealth and power of the Roman church. She is my daily inspiration.

Today is her feast day.  The psalm verse above comes for her feast readings of morning prayer and I expect she did a lot of that kind of waiting on God.

Waiting on God is not very American.  We like to get things done.  We make calls when we are angry.  We send letters when furious (which is often what the psalms are made of… so we are not as modern as we think!)

One mentor of mine defined poverty as “anyone who must wait in line for something they want and need to survive.” That has born itself out in my life as being true.  And of course, what one learns in the religious life is that poverty comes in many forms and rarely financial s much as its many other forms.  There is old-fashioned financial poverty, yes.  But there is also poverty of love, poverty of spirit, poverty of kindness, poverty of power or influence, poverty of silence, poverty of gentleness, poverty of touch (the planet’s most dangerous form.)  Whatever we humans needs – and we do need these things listed – may be denied us at times, and when we sink past a poverty line we easily fall into either rampant self-anesthesia or into despair. Or both.

Hilda if Whitby (well-described in Phillip Newel’s book “Listening for the Heartbeat of God”) is a saint of the church and is my chosen patron saint. She waited on God in the poverty of her ecclesial situation, social situation, and religious situation.  She could have gone to war, rallying the Celtic troops to fight a worthy fight, but with little money she would have lost the battle.  Instead she fought the war, winning, over centuries, quietly and in the long-view.  She knew God loves women, no matter what the church said about them.  She knew God loves new-born, unbaptized babies, no matter what the church said about them.  She new God loved more than God judged.  She new that a warm smile was more important than liturgy, pomp, titles, procession-order or circumstance.  And she had the courage to live that out quietly, waiting on God.  To look at the church today, she made the right choice.  Her gentleness and her warmth will be a great model to us as we welcome people back to the church over the next three decades.

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