Hart-beat: A Year Of Hilda Kicks Off

I share in the launch of A Year of Hilda from this saint’s Hartbeat (I will explain). On Saturday the Catholic Diocesan pilgrimage converges on Saint Hilda’s Church, on Hartlepool Headland. On Sunday three Community of Aidan and Hilda Voyagers (Linda, Maureen and myself) renew their vows (as do members world-wide on Saint Hilda’s Day) after I have preached at Saint Hilda’s Parish Eucharist.

I meet with the Planning Group for A Year of Hilda'. A tapestry, a labyrinth, a pilgrimage and concerts are planned; six seasons of learning, praying and celebrating on an aspect of her life and spirituality, a reconstruction of her first community, unlocking the song in every heart – especially local schools and youth organisations – learning to live a rule of life, special events … not bad for starters.

On Monday we visit Saint Hild’s Church of England Secondary Modern School. The children and librarian who have been working on a special project introduce it to me and the local newspapers. It is an educational board game. Players throw a dice. They either move up some squares (the first to finish ends up at Whitby), or the dice throws up a question. The player picks out the relevant questions card. If they answer it correctly they move forward again. The four sets of question cards all relate to the official school syllabus: Saxons, Saint Hild then and now, Saints of the North of England, and The Lindisfarne Gospels. There is a box of gems. One gem is given for every right answer. Thus they become, and the game is called, ‘Hild’s Jewels’.

I meet the Deanery Synod, and suggest that the Year of Hilda can offer churches fresh goals and tools to achieve them: Whole discipling, bridge-building, death ministry, churches as spiritual homes for everyone. I tell of my forthcoming book on Hilda.

The headland is thought to be a socially deprived area – much reclamation is taking place. Anita, a retired teacher invites us to say Morning Prayer in her house, which she has made available as a Quiet Sanctuary. Why did she move to this area? Because its deep spiritual roots called her. Hilda’s original community of men and women was near the church, in an area then called The Pool of the Hart. The hart, or the deer, slaked their thirst in the wells of that place. Let us pray that today’s thirsty pilgrims will find their thirst slaked at well-springs of everlasting life. ‘As the deer pants for the water, so we thirst for you, O God’ Psalm 41.

P.S. My Oxford lecture on Celtic spirituality, St. Hilda, the Synod of Whitby, and the Great Emergence is now on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufzNhGOkV7k&fmt=18

Posted at 07:12am on 23rd November 2013
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