Thursday, 3 January 2013

A saint and a star

Thanks to Cloister and Silvana for the idea of choosing a patron saint for the New Year - from this Saint's Name Generator. (Not to be confused with a different name generator that I wrote about before Christmas.)  When I asked it to choose a saint for me it gave me St Nicholas of Tolentino. Well, I'll confess here and now that I knew nothing about him.  He was, apparently, a 13th century Augustinian and is the patron saint of (among others) animals, babies, boatmen and souls in Purgatory. Hmm, maybe some connections there... But the image on the site to which the link took me, and which I've reproduced above, did catch my attention. It's that star on his breast. As a small child I was captivated by images of suns, moons and stars with faces, and I still am.

And it's nearly Epiphany. St Nicholas's star reminds me of a body-prayer exercise from the practice of the late Fr Herbert Slade ssje, which I've found good to do at this time of year. If you'd like to try it, here's my remembered version:

Stand, and look up... Imagine way above you a beautiful bright star shining in the night sky. Reach up, stretch as high as you can and - because anything is possible in imagination - touch the star; take hold of it. Slowly bring the star down before you. Look at its beauty and radiance - see the light shining out between your fingers... Slowly, slowly bring the star to your heart and let it rest there.  Hold your hand against your chest and feel the star's presence there. Imagine its radiance within you. Jesus, Emmanuel, born in the Bethlehem of your heart....

Perhaps St Nicholas's patronage and prayers will help me to remember and give thanks this year for the stars which have led me, by so many routes, to find God Incarnate - who calls me to come home to myself.

We're back in Suffolk with so much beauty to gaze at in the New Year night sky. For the last few evenings I've been watching Orion and Sirius, Aldebaran, the Pleiades and Hyades treading the "Great Dance" [yes, C S Lewis was going to be in here somewhere!] together, in the company of Jupiter and a bright waning gibbous Moon. Archdruid Eileen invited us all to go out and look last night, and The Urban Astronomer tells us about more celestial treats in store, for those lucky enough to be in the right place and have clear skies.  "Star(s) of wonder, star(s) of light..."  Have a happy Epiphany!

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