Come back with me to a springtime a few hundred years ago; 664 AD to be precise, and to an abbey perched high on the cliff tops. The Abbess stands at the window watching the river wind its way quietly towards the river mouth. She shivers as a breeze blows through the open window and wonders how, six hundred years since the death of her Christ, the church still struggles to find its way. She hears a familiar footfall behind her.
‘Any news?’ She asks without turning.
Caedmon comes to stand beside her. ‘The discussion was still heated when I passed the great hall on my way to you.’
The Abbess Hilda turns and smiles at him, an affectionate smile for the shepherd she has sheltered and whom she has encouraged to compose so many wonderful songs in his native English tongue. ‘These are difficult issues, Caedmon, but with God’s help they will come to the right decision. We will rid this land of its pagan practices; we will!’ Hilda speaks with passion. Having been a pagan herself she is familiar with their practices.
A door clashes, there’s the hum of many voices and clatter of many feet. Caedmon moves silently out of the room as King Oswiu of Northumberland enters.
‘Well?’ the Abbess asks
The King joins her at the window. ‘Well, I decided I would not like to be refused entry into heaven because my decision was for the Celts. So I decided for Rome.’ When the Abbess made no comment he added, ‘What are your thoughts Abbess?’
She watched Caedmon walking among the daffodils in her garden before saying, ‘I have spent long hours in prayer for today’s decision my King, and came to the conclusion that whenever we chose to celebrate Easter, whether it be the Celtic time or Roman time, it would be acceptable to our Lord. The most important issue is not the when, but that a time is put aside to recognise what Jesus did for us in His death and resurrection.’
King and Abbess stand together watching the dignitaries of the church make their way down the long flight of steps to the harbour of Whitby. Men usually divided by religious issues for one almost united in when to celebrate Easter – almost; the monks from Lindisfarne did not look happy. They were already planning to move to Iona.
So many interesting aspects to Easter, isn’t there? Happy Easter.