For Lent, I signed up to take an online class with Seminary of the Southwest, auditing the class Holy Companions: Spiritual Practices from the Celtic Saints. Each week we are given readings and resources to read and then choose one of the saints to spend time with, or to journey with them as one experiences their week. It's a time to reflect on the spiritual practices we are using that particular week.
This week I chose to journey with St. Melangell (pronounced Mel-en-geth), a 7th century saint, born of an Irish chieftain in the country of Wales. At an early age, she felt a call to solitude and prayer. Her parents did not approve of her calling, so she ran away in search of a place to pray.
Her story continues as she encounters a prince who is hunting hares, and the hare finds refuge underneath the hem of Melangell's garment. The dogs found the hare with Melangell, and they withdrew, recognizing the saint's strength and holiness. The prince was humbled after learning of Melangell and her dedication to a life of prayer. He honored her by declaring the valley in which she had chosen as her refuge as a sanctuary for men, women, and animals who came to seek refuge and protection. The place, after Melangell's death, came to be known as Pennant Melangell and was a site for pilgimage for those seeking healing or seeking a place to escape opression. Today the place continues as a place of prayer and a refuge for wandering souls.
I felt drawn to her, not necessarily from the animals in the story, but from Melangell's desire for searching for a place to pray. I have places where I pray, and sometimes it is not necessarily the location of where I am praying that really matters. However, for some reason, I have had this calling to go... find a place to seek refuge in solitude to pray, where the worries of the world can be left behind, and I can allow myself to clear my slate and pray openly to God and I can listen and hear what God might be telling me at this time in my life. And, this is not a running away as in her case when she ran away from her parents, but a running to a place, to be protected and surrounded by the hem of God's garment of love.
I don't know the time or the place, and am being open to being patient and knowing that when the time is right, the door will be open for my soul to wander and soak in God's love. In the meantime, I will take tiny spaces of time and place to talk and listen through prayer whenever and wherever I can find it.
Image comes from Patricia Banker's illustration of St. Melangell