Wednesday, August 5, 2009

st. oswald of northumbria: 5 august

it might seem strange that i would choose maddox brown's painting of aidan kissing oswald's hand for today's post, unless one knows much about oswald's hands.

oswald famously prayed sitting, with his hands on his knees, open and facing up. when on one easter feast there was a crowd of hungry subjects outside, he sent the silver platter from which he was going to eat to the crowd, and asked that the platter then be broken up and shared amongst the poor. aidan, impressed by the king's generosity, took his right hand and said, "may this hand never wither." when oswald was killed at age 38, on the fifth of august, at maserfelth, the mercians took his head and hands as trophies. his brother oswy recovered them, and the incorrupt hand is still among the relics of durham cathedral.

therefore these excerpt from the prayers for st. oswald's day from the northumbria community are particularly meaningful:

"all that i am, lord,
i place into your hands.
all that i do, lord,
i place into your hands.

"everything i work for
i place into your hands.
everything i hope for
i place into your hands.

"the troubles that weary me
i place into your hands.
the thoughts that disturb me
i place into your hands.

"each that i pray for
i place into your hands.
each that i care for
i place into your hands.

. . .

"lord, hasten the day
when those who fear you in every nation
will come from the east and west,
from north and south,
and sit at table in your kingdom.
and, lord,
let your glory be seen in our land.

. . .

"keep me close to you, lord.
keep me close to you.
i lift my hands to you, lord,
i lift them up to you."

celtic daily prayer (harpersanfrancisco, 2002), pp. 154-157.