Community of Aidan and Hilda, USA

             Imbolic  – February, 2020

Imbolic: the Celtic Season of fire and light.  A time hovering between the stillness of winter and the promise of spring.  Reluctant to leave the cocoon of familiarity, our nature can no longer deny the stirrings within, preparing to move us forward.  Change.  Growth.  Transformation.  The “stuff” of spring.  The call of the Wild Goose to continue.    It requires energy from us; a commodity that can be in short supply, especially if the change it enlists involves an ending of what has been.

In our Community, we face two such endings.  The first is a goodbye to my co-editor and dear friend, Susan Jolitz, as she leaves the responsibilities of newsletter publisher, and turns the corner to embrace new challenges and opportunities to enrich her own Way of Life.  Since 2014, when we published our first edition of “The Wild Goose,” Susan has been my consistent “right arm,” sharing with me a strong conviction that communication is one of the strongest cords we have to bind our dispersed CA&H family together.   I’m sure you’ll all join with me in thanking her for her work and dedication over the years.  May God bless and keep you, dear friend, as your heart travels the road on its journey to your own Jerusalem.

But not all changes are sought after.  Time and circumstance, illness and struggle, can force change to surface in ways never intended; intrusions that demand attention.  Such is the case with Ray Ball, our National Guardian, who has had to abruptly alter his own course in the face of such reality, and step away from his position of leadership for our community.  As is true in all things, the effect has its ripple effect that radiates beyond his universe to touch our own family household of CA&H. May God bless you, our brother in Christ.  May God continue to tune your spirit to the “music of heaven,” allowing you to trust God’s voice to “carry you on the sea,”  when the way is unclear, or unplanned.  And may you “drink deeply from God’s cup of joy” as you willingly say “Here I am Lord” in your availability to God’s will, even more so than in the blessings of your ability .  

                              God’s peace, and all good things to each of you … Cynthia Helton, Editor


The Caim has met to focus on how we will go forward under the circumstances of Ray Ball’s resignation as National Guardian.  It was agreed that rather than trying too quickly to find a solution to our leadership vacancy, the future of this community may depend more on re-evaluating who we are; determining what it is we all, as a community, hold most valuable to the enrichment of our spirituality.  We were reminded that while these are challenging times, they afford the opportunity to creatively discern a way forward – a way that  doesn’t necessarily have to be “fixed;” but rather lends itself to transformation.  

So as it turns out, we truly are in the Imbolic season in a most literal sense … poised on the edge of this “wintering” time,  “hunkering down” as we calmly discern the path the Holy Spirit is showing us.

Discernment be yours.  Wisdom be yours. “Uncomfortable peace and  compassion-filled surprises” be yours.   Creativity and imagination  come flying on the wings of  the Wild Passionate Three-in-One.                                                                                                        ….Karen Teasdale, Voyager

New Enrollment 

Opportunities  for “Igniting the Flame”

We are very excited to announce that enrollment options for upcoming Igniting the Flame classes are being expanded.  This foundational Celtic Christianity Course will now be offered quarterly, rather than just once a year.     If you missed the January cutoff date for the first class of 2020, you will have another opportunity  on April 1, 2020

The aim of this year-long course is to:

  • Introduce you to Celtic Spirituality
  • Give you time to try out new or forgotten ideas as you experiment with different aspects of approaching a Way of Life
  • Help you to put into practice the decisions you make, and to adjust them as necessary
  • Equip you with the confidence to go on exploring and refining your Christianity

You will need a computer with online access to receive your course material, and a copy of New Celtic Monasticism for Everyday People by Ray Simpson.  You will have a personal tutor, plus the opportunity to have access to a private “chat room” where students and tutors can post and reply to each other as a form of communication.   There will be four assignments to complete in a timely manner throughout the year. The course cost is $50.  You may also purchase the book directly from us for $27 and a copy will be mailed to you.

Enrollment in Igniting the Flame is open to everyone, but is limited in number.  For additional information and registration, contact ItF Coordinator Tom Johnson at  The April, 2020 ItF Course is accepting applications now; however registration will be closed by either reaching the number limit or March 1, 2020, whichever comes first.   

Community Spotlight … 

As you’ll recall from our last edition, the plan is to spotlight a crosssection of the living-breathing people who make up CA&H here in the U.S. to get to know each other better – and feel more connected.  To quote an old TV show:  “Well folks, have we got a show for you tonight!”  Obviously not a show; but a wonderful insight into the life of one of our cherished members:  Sonya Van Dusseldorp, a Pilgrim in the Missouri Valley Region (Grand Island, NE) …

Accreditations and Professional Background …

Many universities and studies!  BS from U of WI.  Major- Social

Studies, minors- Spanish, Art Education.   Graduate work in Art

Education-Central College, Pella, IA, U of Iowa, UNI, NEMS,

Kirksville, MO, U of WI, Madison, WI.,  M Div., some D Min. Work,

– Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, KS.

Duties and Joys …

Taught Jr High Art, 2 years, Pella, IA; HS Art 15 years, Pella, IA; 2 years HS Art, New

Sharon, IA. Worked at Sherwin Williams Paints, 6 months; Went to Seminary, intern at FBC DesMoines, IA; Pastor at New Providence BC, Confidence, IA for 7 years; then 7 years as an Area Minister for SE quadrant of IA (33 American Baptist churches); retired 1998. I continue to preach occasionally, preform weddings and funerals occasionally and am active on our camp ministry team for Forest Lake Camp and Conference Centre and other church and ministries!  

Personal … 

I am widowed, have 3 children, 5 grandchildren, 4 gt grandchildren.

My husband had 2 children who have 3 children who relate to me as Grama, one of these has 5 children herself to add to my other great grandchildren. [Editor’s note:  Whew!!]   I enjoy traveling, taking photos, self publishing, gardening and reading. 

My favorite adventure is to talk about are the fact that I have experienced 2

Latin American revolutions: Cuba in 1958/59 & an attempted one in Brazil 1963.  My first husband, father of my 3 children,  was Cuban.  This seems to have affected them as one married an Aussie and lives there.  She has

become a Kudalini Yoga instructor and created a Yoga and wellness studio on their property. My son married a girl from Japan and lives in the Seattle area as a computer engineer.  My oldest daughter has bought a large old house and is renovating it into an albergue/hostel for pilgrims in Spain.

Remembering Our Roots … 

Typically, Brigid would be the Celtic saint to focus on for the month of February; but how about we broaden our horizons and look at someone a bit more obscure


“When the

venerable Bede recorded the life of Cuthbert, he swore to its accuracy and authenticity because he was quite fond of Cuthbert and wanted to make sure his readers knew Cuthbert was a genuine saint of the people.  Although he came to be considered a ‘Celtic’ saint because of his spiritual training and life, Cuthbert was born an Anglo-Saxon, which is another reason why Bede revered him.  In his History, Bede exhibited a not-sosubtle preference for the Anglo-Saxon leaders of the early British church.

Cuthbert (634-687) had a vision of a shaft of light descending to earth from heaven while he was serving with a shepherd in the Lammermuir Hills in southern Scotland.  He interpreted this vision of a holy person being borne to heaven from earth as a sign that he was to become a monk, and that he should therefore follow the footsteps of Aidan to Holy Island – Lindisfarne – off the northeast cost of England near the Scottish border. Cuthbert began his monastic life at

Melrose Abbey where the Irish monk

Boisil was abbot.  Thus, like many AngloSaxon Christians, he received his education at the hands of Celtic teachers.  From Melrose he progressed to Ripon, where he served as guest master.  After some difficulties he returned to Melrose and became abbot after the repose of Boisil.

The newly-appointed abbot of

Lindisfarne, Eata, who had been prior at Ripon, requested that Cuthbert go with him to Holy Island.  By this time Cuthbert had a reputation as a hermit monk who spent much time in silence and travel to surrounding areas, meeting people and inviting them into the faith.  He made a hermitage on Lindisfarne but also had a refuge on Inner Farne, which to this day remains a place of pilgrimage.

Cuthbert was caught up in the strife between the Roman and Celtic factions of the church that came to a head in the socalled Synod of Whitby (664), presided over by the abbess Hilda of Whitby.  Despite his Anglo-Saxon background, Cuthbert wanted to find common ground and harmony between the factions.  When the Synod, in his eyes, capitulated to Roman demands, he sought even deeper refuge in silence and retreat at his hermitage on Inner Farne, relinquishing his post as prior of Lindisfarne.  He lived there for almost a decade, sought out as a spiritual father by many who knew his reputation as a saintly and silent leader.  Eventually he was brought back to serve the larger church, this time as Bishop of Lindisfarne, a post that covered the entire area of Northumberland.  

As bishop, Cuthbert retained his concern for animals and the poor, and he was greatly loved by the people in his diocese.  Unlike many authoritarian rulers of both church and state, he sought counsel and decision by consensus.  In his own words:   ‘Preserve divine charity among yourself, and when you come together to discuss your common affairs let your principal  goal be to reach unanimous decision.’  His rule of silence gave him deep awareness of the condition of humanity,  as silence can do for those who use it as a tool for insight and contemplation of their own condition.

    All who wander are not necessarily lost, they may just be explorers, or pilgrims, or voyagers. . . 

                …Tom Johnson, Voyager

Over a century after Cuthbert’s death, with Vikings breathing off the shores of Holy Island, the monks exhumed his body and carried him off.  In 793 they settled on an inland spot indicated by the sign of a dun cow.  There they erected a Cathedral, to this day.  We celebrate St Cuthbert o March 20.

              Excerpted from “A Staff to the Pilgrim”

                           …by Gabriel Cooper Rochelle

A Voyager for Life

                        …by Paul Martin

I first heard about the Community of Aidan and Hilda some 15 years ago at a weekend led by our US Founding Guardian, Jack Stapleton. Though it was 6 months before I took my Explorer vows, in truth I knew right then that this would be my true spiritual home for the rest of my life, my ‘place of resurrection.’ It was the same for Barb Williams, who much later served with me as Guardian. Neither of us has ever come near changing our minds. 

          This piece was going to be my thoughts about why. Then my focus sharpened, and it now zeroes in on the heart of our life. It’s easy to see the problems that go with our dispersed nature, so most of us don’t realize just how rich life in this Community can be.

However, it totally depends on how you approach it.

          A survey just published finds that 61% of American adults say they are lonely. That’s up from 54% just two years ago. It may sound strange to say a dispersed Community like ours has an answer to loneliness, but I believe it’s true. The key lies in the difference between loneliness and solitude, the solitude the early Celtic Christians learned from the Desert Fathers and


          In Holy Island, our Minnesota regional fellowship, we have been

studying a profound little book by Archbishop Rowan Williams called

“Silence and Honey Cakes.” We learned that in renouncing society, the early Desert Saints were not judging society, but themselves. They chose solitude, not to avoid people, but so they could stop avoiding their own individual ‘dark side.’ This they single-mindedly brought to God so they could become persons able to help others find God. Henri Nouwen put it like this:  “Solitude greeting solitude; that’s what community is all about. Community is not the place where we are no longer alone but the place where we respect, protect and reverently greet one another’s aloneness. When we allow our aloneness to lead us into solitude, our solitude will enable us to rejoice in the solitude of others. Our solitude roots us in our own hearts. Instead of making us yearn for company that will offer us immediate satisfaction, solitude makes us claim our center and empowers us to call others to claim theirs. Our various solitudes are like strong, straight pillars that hold up the  roof of our communal house. Thus solitude always strengthens community.”

          To follow the Desert saints into the wilderness in the solitary times of our walk along the Aidan Way turns out to be the way to life, and to the truest friendship. That is how we “find our tribe.” Cindy Helton expressed it beautifully in a recent Wild Goose: “for me it’s like standing in a forest, separate from the rest of the trees … yet having a common root system.” You will be walking this way on your own most of the time, but not all of it. If

you have an active regional community, join with it. They are the ones God has given you as family to grow with. If you don’t, let us help you form a regular online gathering. It takes a little getting used to, but the one I started in the fall is going well.

          Jesus made some difficult demands on those who were following him, so difficult that many drifted away. “Will you also leave,” he asked the

Twelve. Simon Peter answered, “Lord, where would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:66f) That’s how I feel about this little, scattered, wonderful Community.


 UK Guardian Letter: Simon Reed

I am not in favor of the Week of Prayer for

Christian Unity. Yes, you did read that correctly. My reason is that it’s too easy just to pray for unity. We say some nice words and then if nothing happens we say that God does not always answer prayer immediately. My even bigger reason is that the Bible does not tell us to pray for unity. It tells us to be united and then to preserve that unity (Ephesians 4:1-6). Unity is not what we say, it’s what we do. 

The day I arrived in Australia the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, made a speech in which he told anyone who supported same sex relationships that they should leave the Anglican church and start a different one. With due respect to him, I think he has totally missed the point, and, despite quoting Scripture to support his views, misunderstands one of the fundamental characteristics of being a Christian. 

It’s easy to be united with people with whom we agree, and who do things in the same way that we do. It’s much harder to be in unity with people with whom we don’t agree, and who do things we don’t think they should do. It’s this second kind of unity which is at the heart of being a Christian. 

The way in which we are reconciled with God is through faith in Jesus (e.g. Ephesians 2:8-9) – AND NOTHING ELSE! We are then called to live as faithful followers of Jesus, imitators of his way of living. To do that we have the

Scriptures, but they rarely offer a straightforward set of rules. Instead we need to work at finding out what they mean and how they apply to us. We will need the help of the Spirit and the advice of other Christians, both people alive today and those who have gone before us, and we will need to process all this in our own mind and with our own conscience. For a whole bunch of reasons, not least our own God-created human diversity, we are likely to come to varying, and sometimes opposing conclusions. 

What then happens far too often is that we look at someone who believes different things or lives in a different way, and either conclude that they are wrong, or worse, that they are deliberately refusing to see the truth. We then conclude that we cannot be in unity with them or we will be supporting their sinful error. And that’s the mistake. We can be in unity with them because unity is grounded in our common faith in Christ AND NOTHING ELSE. It is that faith – AND NOTHING ELSE – which makes us both members of the body of Christ and part of the worldwide family of God. And we might also like to consider that they may be as sincere, thoughtful, and conscientious in how they live as we are – or even more so. 

We are allowed to disagree. We are allowed to debate. What we are not allowed to do is to exclude and divide from the people with whom we disagree. Unity means that we may argue with each other passionately, disagree vehemently, and live differently, but still at the end be friends and sit down together around one table.

That’s what our ninth waymark looks like in practice. 

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For your reference ….

  • US Community Website:  
  • CA&H Facebook Page:  Administrator –
  • Igniting the Flame:  Coordinator – 
  • PayPal Link for Payments/Contributions:
  • “The Wild Goose”:   Editor –

Whichever way we turn, O God, there is Your face   in the light of the moon and patterns of stars,           in sacred mountain rifts and ancient groves,          in mighty seas and creatures of the deep.

Whichever way we turn, O God, there is Your face    in the light of eyes we love,

                                                         in the salt of tears we have tasted,

                                             in weathered countenances east and west,

                                          in the soft skin glow of the child everywhere.

Whichever way we turn, O God, there is Your face,  there is Your Face         among us.”

                                                                                   …John Philip Newell


CYCLE OF PRAYER – Imbolc 2020 (Gŵyl Fair y Canhwyllau)

We follow a twice-a-month Prayer Cycle. Three days are set aside to pray for special missions and ministries that various members fulfill.

We suggest you also focus on one element of the Aidan Way or one of our Guiding Principles in prayer each day, and check if you need to make minor course adjustments to your Way. To help you, we have added in green some questions adapted from Ray Simpson’s email series “The Way” <>

Please e-mail the Prayer Cycle Editor (Paul Martin <> if you have changes or additions to suggest, or to report new vowtakers.

If you wish to take Explorer or Pilgrim vows, please refer to your Regional Guardian or the Caim for the prescribed formation steps.  The Caim must approve requests to take Voyager or Long Voyage vows.

E-mail if you want to receive the Worldwide Community Prayer Cycle, or The Aidan Way (UK Newsletter), both of which are produced quarterly.

Saint Aidan’s Day       August 31st

Join us all in a Day of Service and Witness in the footsteps of Aidan.

Saint Hilda’s Day November 17th

Join the Community worldwide in renewing your Vows in the spirit of Hilda. 

The Mantle of Aidan

“Oh Aidan, you had the vision of a population transformed in Christ. 

You had the faith to come.

You had the gentleness to win the hearts of king and commoner. 

You ministered in power and patience to the sick and dying.

You created teamwork.

Your visits to tell people Good News gave your team a pattern to follow.

You loved the people of the land.

You lived simply and prayed much.

You prepared a mission to the nation.

You influenced many to reach others for Christ.

You are Christ for the nation.

You are apostle to every land.

You are in pain that people here are heedless of your Lord.

You will not rest till they are won.”

Father, put the mantle of Aidan upon me.

Wild Goose – Nov. 2019-Samhain