The rooms in Spirit Center are named for mystics and monastics. Here is one of them…
“In the house of God there are many mansions. There is a place for everyone… Once we deeply trust that we ourselves are precious in God’s eyes, we are able to recognize the preciousness of others and their unique places in God’s heart.” ~ Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World
Hilda of Whitby (c. 614–680), a saint from Anglo-Saxon England, was a gifted leader who deeply understood Christ’s call to community. She led people in the tradition of the Celtic monasticism taught to her by Bishop Aiden from Iona. She was the founding abbess of Whitby Abbey.
In The Ecclesiastical History of the English (731) by Venerable Bede, Hilda is described as an energetic administrator and teacher who all called ‘mother’ in deference to her “devotion and grace.” Kings sought her for advice. As a landowner, she employed a large array of people to tend to the many tasks of supporting a monastery. She had an awareness of the unique gifts of each of these people. When Cædmon, a herder at the monastery, had a dream about composing verses in praise of God, Hilda recognized his gift for poetry and encouraged him to develop it. The result is Cædmon’s Hymn, the very first piece of English literature.
Whitby Abbey was known as one of the best places of learning in the region. Celtic monasteries at the time included men and women, living apart and worshipping together. Five men from her monastery became bishops and two joined her in being revered as saints. She is considered one of the patron saints of learning and culture, including poetry.
St. Hilda is often depicted with a pastoral staff — indicative of her understanding that the strength of a community lies in the appreciation and nurturing of individuals and their gifts toward a collective set of values. Her last words were, “Have evangelical peace among yourselves.”