A New Aidan And Hilda House

I have become the first tenant of a new Community of Aidan and Hilda house in the UK Border town of Berwick-Upon-Tweed. Community friends have helped me set it up. Downstairs (kitchen and meeting room) is a place of welcome for day visitors with samples of our literature. It can be used for small gatherings or booked by individuals who want a quiet day. Upstairs is my bedroom, a guest room, and a room which is office one end and chapel the other. The wall hangings reflect the international character of the Community – pictures from First Nations, Africa, the Antipodes, Russia, North America mingle with a poem from Norway and the universal Celtic Cross.

The house is in Wallace Green, named after William Wallace. In the 1290’s civil war threatened Scotland which had no uncontested heir to its throne. Scotland’s nobility invited their friend, England’s King Edward 1 to arbitrate. At a grand assembly at Berwick-Upon-Tweed (on the site of the present rail station) John Balliol was elected king. Edward, however, soon found him obnoxious, stormed the then Scottish town of Berwick, defeated Balliol at a battle at Dunbar and demanded that Scottish nobles give him homage. People's uprisings took place, and William Wallace, a giant of a man, emerged as a leader, continuing the fight even after Scottish nobles gave allegiance to Edward. On 12 September 1297 Wallace’s men routed the far larger English army at Stirling Bridge, and led raids into northern England. In a forest ceremony he was given the accolade Guardian of Scotland, but in April 1298 Edward crushed the rebellion at the Battle of Falkirk. Wallace retreated into sporadic guerrilla warfare but was captured by the English in 1305, and was imprisoned in the building opposite to me before being executed. He has become an iconic figue of myth, was the subject of the film Braveheart, and around him accrue current animosities between some Scots and English. Both the English and the Scots who are vowed to our Way of Life are committed to the healing of the land. So it seems like a divine appointment that this house should explore ‘Borderland Spirituality’ – how we encounter God on the borders between earth and heaven, between times and seasons and between countries and cultures.

Within a short time I have befriended neighbours and churches: The Church of Scotland opposite and the Church of England which adjoins it, coffee mornings at St. Cuthbert’s, the Catholics’ hall round the corner, more coffee at the Methodists opposite it, whose lively congregation is about to re-locate - and the Salvation Army are delivering and taking furniture. Please pray that borderland spirituality and healing of the land may arise from the life of prayer in this house.

Posted at 01:01am on 7th November 2016
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