This faceless sculpture of St Melangell and the hare within her cloak stays in the garden here during the summer and is taken into the centre for protection from bad weather in winter. At this time of Melangell’s Feast Day there would normally be many people coming here. However, the church and centre are both locked while the Covid-19 pandemic continues and so I did some gardening. As, alone, I weeded around the statue I viewed it from differing angles and began to see it in a new light. Perhaps it was because of the buzzards and red kites flying overhead at times, but it seemed to me that, with her cloak flying around her, Melangell is taking the hare under her wing when it runs to her, actively giving it protection as well as just letting it hide. Did that lead to her taking others under her wing when she later became Abbess to the community that developed here and, as Mother Melangell, gave protection, hospitality and care to those in need of it in the place still called the sanctuary land today?
During this time of crisis, as well as the care being provided by NHS, hospice, carers and key workers, there are many others who need to find or be given shelter and support – perhaps that applies to us as well as those around or in the news. Who can we run to or what can we do to offer protection to others when we may be in isolation or at a social distance?
Psalm 91 uses the image of a mother hen to remind us that refuge can always be found under God’s wings and, as Mother Melangell prayerfully provided sanctuary for those who needed it, so can we. With care being so much needed in the complex issues facing us all, why not consider someone you know or in the news and take them under your wing in prayer for them and their situation? In the face of uncertainty and with little idea of what the ‘new normal’ will involve, may Melangell’s prayerful example inspire us to take others under our wing in prayer and know that we can all find refuge and help within the love of God, whatever the future holds:
“…under his wings you will find refuge…..you will not fear the pestilence that stalks in the darkness nor the plague that destroys at midday….I will be with them in trouble ….. and show them my salvation.” Psalm 91, vv4,6,15,16, NIV