Holding everything in common

Part of the vow of poverty means that we don’t technically own anything of our own and we share stuff with the rest of the community.

Of course things like clothes are bought (or in the case of habits, made) for us for personal use, but they ultimately belong to the community.  Some garments are straight forward to share or pass on, others we clearly don’t.

There is one major exception to holding everything in common, and that is germs.  If you’ve got a cold, you’re not expected to share that one with your sisters.  Ideally you’ll quarantine yourself until it goes away.  Of course, this isn’t always possible.

So, the one thing that’s guaranteed to be shared in community is the common cold!  And the inspiration for today’s post?  I woke up with a sore throat, meaning that I’ve finally picked up the cold that’s been living in our house for the last five or six weeks…

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Feast of St Hilda

Please note that this is a scheduled post because I’m actually in retreat today.

Hilda, or Hild, of Whitby, is the patron saint of the town of Whitby.  She’s really quite an interesting woman.  Her feast day is today, 17th November, although the lectionary (the church’s calendar that tells you when the saints days occur and what bits of the Bible you’re supposed to read) has usurped her with Hugh of Lincoln and shunted her off to the 19th, which this year is a Sunday, so most places will simply forget she exists.

Except here in the North East of England, where there are many churches dedicated to her.  Although she’s known as Hilda of Whitby, she moved around quite a bit.  Baptised aged 13 in York, we then know nothing of her life for about 20 years or so, when aged 33, she re-appears and wants to join a Religious Order in France, just like her older sister.  (It’s thought, although we don’t know for sure, that she must have been married and then widowed, because it would be very unlikely for a woman to remain single for her entire life in the 6oo’s.)

However, Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne, intervened, and that was a very good thing.  Because without that intervention and Aidan suggesting that Hilda stay in the area where she was born and grew up, we would not have the religious sites and places of pilgrimage that we have now, namely areas around Hartlepool and Whitby.

All the information that is available about Hilda comes from one source, the Venerable Bede.  It seems he was quite taken with her, even though he would almost certainly have never met her, his being 7 or 8 when she died, at the grand age of 66, which for an Anglo-Saxon woman would be the equivalent to someone living to 110 today!

The main fame for Hilda was her monastery hosting the Synod of Whitby.  We don’t have the full details of what went on at that Synod (there was no General Synod twitter account back then, sadly) but we do know that it was decided for everyone to follow the Roman method of calculating when to celebrate Easter and therefore Ash Wednesday and Pentecost.

Another thing of interest.  In Anglo-Saxon England, there were probably only about 30 bishops in total.  Five of the monks who she taught and spent time with became bishops.  That’s quite a hefty percentage of the episcopate to have passed under her tutelage.

Hilda has been and continues to be an inspiration, and I personally think is proof that feminism is not a new thing.  Women have been strong leaders since the dawn of time.

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Praying without ceasing

Saint Paul is constantly on about praying without stopping.   Which seems a bit bonkers really, as we can’t do something all of the time.  We need breaks for things like eating, going to the bathroom, sleeping, all the funny things that make us human.

One of the early desert fathers had it right though.  He would get someone else to pray so he could catch some zzz’s.

Thing is, we live on a world that is a ball.  A rotating ball, orbiting a flaming ball.  So we get light and dark.  This means that we don’t have to be awake all of the time.  As I head for bed at 9.30pm GMT,  it’s the end of lunch for wherever it is on the west coast of the USA where it’s 1.30pm.

So, while it’s currently morning, I’m sharing an evening hymn that I think wonderfully illustrates this idea of the cycle of prayer simply continuing on around the world.

Faith and science go hand in hand.  How can they not?

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Exercising your pets

This song is one I remember from being a kid and seeing it on Top of the Pops where there was someone in a dinosaur costume dancing with the band.

Anyway, this post will be dedicated to Ra, to Evil Squirrel, to Merby and anyone who likes things which are a bit quirky or needs a bit of a giggle.

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Some thoughts on getting older


Sadly, this is very true.


Or just blowing bubbles for yourself!  Blowing bubbles is really quite fun.  The world needs more bubbles.


I’ve always loved thunderstorms.


If you figure this out, please would you let me know?

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Compline is the last “hour” prayed at the end of the day.  Greater Silence now begins.

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A bit of a cheat for today’s nanopoblano post, a reblog of one of my old posts.

Stories from the Chocolaterie

As the crowd watches, the woman walks out of the building, followed by her husband and her grandsons.

The procession travels only a short distance – not even 100 yards. She has done this journey too many times – a journey she wishes didn’t exist, didn’t have to exist.

The sun shines bright – too bright, almost, for the occasion. The clock chimes in its tower and silence falls. A deep, stilling silence and it seems that not even birdsong is heard, such is the solemnity of the moment.

The faces around her vary. Some, like this woman, are stoic. Others stand, eyes closed, in prayer. Others weep quietly.

The bugles sound, then silence falls again.

The woman takes a few steps forward, bends then straightens, steps back, and bows.

Her husband and her grandsons take their turns to do likewise. Their uniforms mark them for the military men which…

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We will remember them.


In Flanders Fields

Flanders Poppy on the First World War battlefields.

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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I once had a henna tattoo

Henna tattoo

The Holy Spirit descending as a dove, in flames of fire – or at least, it was, before the glitter rubbed off.

It was a lovely gift when I attended my first Greenbelt Festival, and amazingly, the lady who did it for me recognised me (although that’s probably not hard when I’m in habit) and her husband said that because of my having had the henna design from them, they’re able to use the picture of it to open doors with so many different types of people to talk about the Christian faith.

Funny how things work out, isn’t it?

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How Great Thou Art

It’s the title of a hymn, which is brilliant.  And it has an amazing chorus.

But I just found this picture on my computer.


And for those of you who’ve never heard this, here’s a Tube of You link:

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