HEMMED IN: Saint Melangell and the Hare

link to image and story below

STORY:

It so happened that one day the Prince of Powys whose name was Brochwel Yscythrog was out hunting nearby to her hermitage and his dogs roused a hare and chased it forcing it to take refuge in a thicket.  The prince thought his dogs had the hare at their mercy so when he caught up with them he had a surprise.  The hounds all stood at bay around the hare that sat defiantly glaring at the dogs from the fold of the dress worn by a woman of great beauty who was in deep prayer.  All around the dogs howled and bayed but they would not go near the hare that stared boldly at them  from the shelter of the the folds of the woman’s dress.

The Prince and his huntsmen urged his hounds to go in for the kill but they would not venture near the woman who continued praying fervently.  Prince Brochwel Yscythrog ordered his chief huntsman to blow on his horn to encourage them to the kill but when he tried to blow the horn no sound was made and it stuck fast to his lips preventing him from opening them.

The Prince then spoke to the woman who told him her history and that she was a hermitess who lived nearby and had dedicated herself to God.   She told him how she had arrived and lived here and that she had vowed chastity and that his and his huntsmen were the first men she had seen in fifteen years.  She had lived a life of hardship and dedication to God and her bed been the hard cleft of a nearby rock.

Brochwel Yscythrog was so impressed by her story and what he had seen he gave her the land thereabout to live on and to be a sanctuary to any who fled there.  The Prince asked her to found an abbey on the site which she did and became the abbess living there for many years and dying at a great age.

MEDITATION:

From the beginning of Melangell’s story, we witness her flight to a place that only God could provide. In prayer we experience the full assurance that God is our refuge. Often in the midst of despair or in an experience of being surrounded by enemies, we find that prayer is the place where we are sure to be safe and protected by God’s loving presence.

To pray like Melangell is to stop our frantic efforts to escape the situations that cause fear and anxiety within us and to draw near to Christ, who longs to gather us like a mother hen gathers her young beneath her wings.

In the sanctuary of prayer is the freedom to roam and to be at peace no matter what external conflicts might be evident. A person who has experienced the refuge of God in prayer becomes a place of refuge for others.
– Mary C. Earle

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