Friends always show their love. What are brothers for if not to share trouble? Proverbs 17: 17
I have been to a number of Christian communities where brothers or sisters seem to flow together in mutual love. They have trust in their eyes, and esteem in their hearts for one another, and they help each other in practical ways. That spirit marked David and his brothers, as the stories about Brother Aidan reveal.
Aidan was one of David’s inner circle of three from the beginning whom the biographer describes as ‘being alike of one mind and desire’. Once Aidan was studying one of the monastery’s books, which had no doubt been painstakingly transcribed, out of doors, when David asked him to go on an errand; this involved taking two oxen and a wagon to carry some timber which was some distance away. Aidan was, as always, so keen to carry out errands in a good spirit that he left immediately; leaving his precious book still open. Having harnessed the oxen, loaded the wagon with the timber, and begun his return journey, the wagon and oxen careered over a cliff. Aidan made the sign of the Cross over them, and retrieved them safely from the sea. Further on the journey there was such a downpour that the ditches overflowed, and Aidan then thought of that precious book!
Having unloaded the timber he went back for the book, no doubt thinking of the damage the downpour had done to it He found it, however, in exactly the same condition as it was when he left it. The brothers felt that the humility and faith in the way Aidan carried out the errand had provided a shield for the oxen, and that David’s fatherly faith on behalf of his dear brother had provided a shield for the book.
Aidan’s rapport with David at a deep spiritual level continued when he moved far away to Ireland, where he founded a monastery. One day before Easter Eve he was praying in the monastery, when he ‘knew’ that someone would poison David’s food at their Easter Day supper. He sent one of his monks, who managed, with divine guidance, to cross the sea and reach David in time to tell him.
May the great God be between your two shoulders
To protect you in your going and your coming.
May the Son of Virgin Mary be near your heart
And the perfect Spirit be upon you pouring.