Monday, 31 December 2012

Small Stones - January Blessings

There is a genre of poetry and prose that travels across the blogosphere known as 'small stones'. A few lines of mindfulness that capture a moment or a mood. Writing our Way Home has a January project for 31 days of small stones. Let's see how we go?

New Year's Eve

Fire works
Fading Moon drifting through clouds of aftermath
against the darkness; sparkled screams letting go of Old Lang Syne
Fire works
burning a bright hope into the New Year


Nativity - the Fourth Shepherd

There are many characters in the story of the Nativity but one that we rarely hear of is the Fourth Shepherd.

When the angels came that night to bring the Good News, they began with the most unlikely. Shepherds were a tough lot who had to survive out on the hills protecting their flock from the weather, the wolves and their own stupidity. 

Once the shepherds had gotten over the shock and wonder of the glory of heaven shining all around them, they immediately wanted to go and find the baby; the lights of Bethlehem beckoned as brightly as the stars – ‘Come and see’. The could barely stop to wrap their cloaks around them; pick up their staffs and catch a light from the fire.

 All except one. One young shepherd remained seated, looking into the fire. When the others asked him why he wasn’t ready, he replied that he was; he was ready to stay behind and take care of the flock. The other shepherds shook their heads with disbelief but they were too excited to argue and shouted over their shoulders that they would be back as soon as they had seen the Christ Child.

The Fourth Shepherd took his staff and moved to the crest of a hill where he could see clearly across the fields to Bethlehem; he imagined that he could see the very place where the angels had sung of; he imagined the smells of the animals and the hay and the delight of a mother and father as they held their new born baby boy.  His imagining didn’t last long, however, as the sheep gathered round him bleating and huffing for attention. Reminded of his responsibilities, he turned his gaze to the shadows and the horizon.

The shepherds didn’t come back the next day, or the next. In fact, they never came back. The importance of their message had taken them to many far off places. So the Fourth Shepherd took charge of the flock for that year, the next year and for many, many years until he was an old, old man. People talked about him and how he wasn’t like the other shepherds they knew. He took care of them by himself; he birthed them and healed them. He was a thoughtful man who treated his flock like his own children, knowing each of their names – from the grandmothers to the lambs.

One winter’s evening, the Fourth Shepherd was walking along a hillside path, one of the lambs wrapped in his cloak, when a man walked towards him and stopped to ask about the bundle he held. The Fourth Shepherd told him that he had searched all day for this lamb only to find him caught up in some brambles and close to death. ‘He’s warmed up enough now,’ he said and swung the lamb onto his shoulders. ‘Not much of a flock’, the man smiled.

‘O, there are more troublemakers,’ the Shepherd returned the smile. ‘They number about a hundred. I’ve left them in safe pasture so that I could chase after this little one but it’s getting dark; time to get back. I’ve never lost a sheep in all my years and I’m not going to lose one now. You’re a long way out yourself, my friend. If you’d like a warm fire to sleep by, I’d be glad of the company. And I could tell you a tale of another winter’s night full of stars like this one.’

The man smiled and turned to walk with him. ‘I was born on a night like this,’ he said, ‘and there were shepherds that night too. Perhaps there is more than one story worth telling.’


Friday, 21 December 2012

Lamentation - End of the World

The world will end today
It will end in hospital wards
in speeding cars
in shop doorways
in dark alleys
It will end in unrequited love
rejection and betrayal
denial and loss
in goodbye
It will end in dreams shattered
expectations dashed
starved ambition
It will end in abuse and misuse
in humiliation
random acts of neglect
The world will end today
and another and another
until the weight of the universe
presses down on human hearts
And a new world will not be born
If Pandora's box cannot be made
of rough timber and straw
if Hope will not fit in an infant's hand.
The world will end today


Thursday, 20 December 2012

O, Come

When you are nothing but a number
When there is no room
When you hear only 'no'
And the road winds through 
a unknown land 
There - in the darkest of nights
in the coldest of dawns
- will come


Monday, 26 November 2012

Psalm 142 - Heart of Stone

Teach me to do your will,
  for you are my God.

Give me back my heart of stone,
so I may love no more.

But 'no' 
you said 
And broke this heart 
already crack'd
So I may love


Blessed be


Saturday, 17 November 2012

Feast of St Hilda

'All who knew her called her Mother' - Bede

Hilda was born in 614 into the Deiran royal household in bloody and fractious 
Nothing else seems to be known about Hilda up to 648 except that she was 
baptised with Edwin's court in a river near York.; possibly she did marry, 
was widowed and then, as was the custom for royal household,planned to 
retreat to a life in the church.
Oswold became king of Northumbria in 633 and brought Aidan from Iona to 
form a monastery at Lindisfarne.  When he became Bishop, Aidan of Lindisfarne 
asked Hilda to form a monastery. Hilda accepted the call and was given a 
small household at the mouth of the river Wear. 
In 649,  Aidan made a further request to Hilda to become abbess of the
 established monastery at Hartlepool, a community of men and woman.
When Oswiu became king of the Northumbria and overlord of southern England,
Hilda was given land to form a monastery at  Whitby.
At the age of 43,  Hilda moved to Whitby and formed another double monastery 
for men and women. Her abbey was to become one of the greatest religious 
and centre of learning in the known world.
Although Hilda had been baptised in the Roman tradition by Paulinus, the contact and influence in her very formative years was very much with great Celtic people like Aidan and Finan  and later Cuthbert. 

Oswiu, decided to call a meeting of church leaders in 664 to resolve these differences once and for all. This became known as The Synod of Whitby as it was held at Hilda's monastery. Hilda very much supported the Celtic view put to the Synod by bishop Colman but it was the Roman view, championed by Wilfrid that won the day. Hilda accepted the change to Roman ways but remained a critic of Wilfrid .

Through the rest of Wilfrid's stormy life until Hilda's death in 680 she remained at Whitby continuing to build on her good works and offering council and advice to kings and bishops alike. She was also responsible for nurturing the talents of a humble cowman called Caedmon who became England's first poet. Hilda  died at Whitby. The night before she died, Begu, a nun from Hackness monastery, had a vision. Whilst resting in the dormitory, Begu saw the roof open revealing the soul of Hilda as it was carried to heaven by angels. Begu told the Prioress and all the sisters were praying when monks from Whitby arrived to tell them the news and found that they already knew. 

Hilda is someone I have come to know, admire and love through the Celtic tradition. When I first learnt of her feastday I took a double-take, surely the 17th November was already taken? And by the patron saint of my childhood parish and the saint who I asked to walk beside me at my Confirmation (not Mary's cousin as many people assume - though I hold her in  great affection). Much less known, Elizabeth was canonised only four years after her death as the first royal Franciscan for her devotion to the poor. 

This window is in St Mary's on Lindisfarne.
Elizabeth of Hungary lived for only twenty four years yet she was a child, princess, mother, queen, widow, exile, and one of the most pious women to ever live. 
Elizabeth was a child devoted to God. She was an intelligent, well-educated girl who practiced penance and regularly gave alms to the poor. At an early age, she put herself under the protection of the Blessed Virgin and Saint John.

 Elizabeth was married between the ages of thirteen and fourteen.  The match proved to be a happy one. Ludwig loved her and believed his position put him in the  service of God. Ludwig died leaving Elizabeth with three children, a widow at the age of twenty. In her devotion she became aware of the Rule of Francis and wanted nothing more than to follow in his footsteps. She built a monastery for the Franciscan order in 1225 at Eisenach. After a difficult few years she formally relinquished worldly possessions and then became one of the first tertiaries, a member of the Third Order of St. Francis. Her last act of the outside world was the completion of the Franciscan hospital at Marburg in the summer of 1228. After this, she devoted her heart and soul to the aid of the poor and sick, especially the most severely afflicted. She died only a few years later, at the age of twenty-four.

St. Elizabeth is generally represented as a princess holding roses in her lap. According to a legend, she was met unexpectedly as she went secretly on an errand of mercy, and, so the story runs, the bread she was trying to conceal  suddenly turned into roses.

Amongst others, she is the patron saint of widows, bakers, the falsely accused and tramps.

The Communion of Saints certainly gives us something to aspire to.


Monday, 15 October 2012

Teresa of Avila

  'When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery'. 
St Paul to the Galatians- reading of the day

Today we celebrate the feast of one of my patron saints - Teresa of Avila - Virgin and Doctor of the Church. Not a Celt but with as straightforward an approach to living faith as any Brigid.

A mystic; she delighted in, and taught a openness to the experience of God's presence as a deep, personal relationship. And having had that experience she was even able to identify the loss of an awareness of God as proof of His Presence (if He wasn't there how could you miss him?)Something we still have difficulties with even now.

Paul writes of a new convenant that is a promise, not of independence but of interdependence; of a relationship bound tightly and so deeply in love that fulfills everything that we could hope for. Yet the world continues to suggest otherwise. Teresa turns away from the yoke of slavery that meant other people had the right to decide what her life would be; what her future would be. She turns away from her own desire to be part of the world - discovering that she would likely be too 'prone' to sin. In a growing faith, that seems as much seduction as anything else, Jesus drew her to him with his need for good friends and her desire to be a true lover of Christ. 

In her teaching of Contemplative prayer she says; "it is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us. The important thing is not to think much but to love much and so do that which best stirs you to love. Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything."

And in this we find freedom.

I feel your eyes, Lady.
Your indulgent smile
Graced upon a child,
A novice of your Way,
A pilgrim to the heart of Love.
You hear my exclamations of faith,
My delight in His glorious presence,
And, teacher that you are,
You speak your warning,
A whispered, ‘Beware’
For with the highs there is always…

Desolation, Lady?
I have also been a pilgrim along that road.
Life’s story unwinding, unheard
Neither written nor read by me.
Life once removed from love,
Purposefully drained empty,
I have lived the dread-filled nightmare
When there is no hope of sunrise.
I have lain submerged in despair
Listening to life move on around me.
Cowered in the dark from
Night stalkers that suck hope dry,
Borne days when life was merely an option.
I have sunk, sick to the stomach and
Screamed into the darkness,
To the lonely echo of my own voice.


And so, my consolation.
He found me then
And he has me now.
And, Mistress, you know as well as I,
That that is more than enough.


Thursday, 4 October 2012

Feast of Francis of Assisi

A fair amount of information about Francis is found here.  Francis is one of those saints that many people feel close to and comfortable with; especially through his dedication as patron saint of animals and the fondness that many people have for members of the Franciscan order. The deeper truth of Francis is much more challenging and a willingness to follow after Francis asks for a sacrifice of desire of everything except the desire for God. I have been blessed to walk the streets and lanes of Assisi and the countryside where he found his refuge and his inspiration. The faith of the followers of Francis and Clare has soaked into the land and left their mark. Even the olive trees have a story to tell. The blessings of the Feast:- 

Assisi - Walk from San Damiano to Rivo Torto

The afternoon sun raises a shimmering heat haze through the parched olive groves. Conspiring old hags, the ancient groves reveal their own vision in answer at my musings.

Ancient? Indeed we are ancient; twisted arthritic creatures, old even when Francis walked this way with his brothers; old when Chiara left through the door of the dead for a life much less ordinary.

Some of us kin to the groves of Gethsemane; to that garden where the Christ found a refuge for his tears; where the treachery began; in faith, our lives spanning your faith. And in our lives  -a parable.

Across the ages, from Christ to Francis to the moment we rest in – we have been a birthplace for life; for sunlit  sustenance; for the food of angels, Olives, a treasure and a fundamental part of  life in this place; food and drink; a bowl of olives, good bread – virgin oil – a feast for the senses.

 Each year, this harvest comes again - a new birth -  a new gift. For us new life comes from the newly alive. The olives ripen only on this season’s wood. And we are mad with the power of fertility. Left to ourselves in the delight of sun and rain; we sprout and shoot and become a riot of fecundity, overgrown, entangled, unmanageable – until our branches collapse from lack of water and weight of the fruit – until the winter winds tear our hearts out.

It is through need that we submit to the shears and pruning knife; branches that are cut hard, cut back into our lichen covered, ancient, seemingly decrepit torsos, wherein lies the taproot of memory, of truth, of rebirth. And there we begin again.

And here is the crux of our tale.

Your faith, childlike, seeks attention, new experience. Prosperity puts authority before service. You are meant to be poor but desire riches; you are meant to be vulnerable but want power. You become blinded by the immediacy and desire of the flesh. You think 'if there was only another path' but there is only one path.  

That is why you need this place; like us you need the sharp reminder of the knife; to stir the roots ; to be taken back to the Word; to loose the trappings of the world; to begin again.  As Chiara and Francis did, as your Celtic brothers and sisters did. To rebuild a church of souls. Our words to you – return to the source, walk in their footsteps, follow the Way.


Saturday, 1 September 2012

Lindisfarne Days - the Sabbath Day

Ita - Heart Mother

Genesis 2:3
And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, 

Information on the life of St Ita here

Another early saint and a mother of the church a generation later than Brigid but equally honoured as a 'wetnurse of Christ'. 

Unlike Brigid who appears to have managed to be a 'wanderer of Christ' despite her gender, Ita brings a particularly rooted and maternal influence to the faith,  yet Ita was known to spend much time in contemplative prayer - it is what she brings out of that prayer that 'mothers' her charges. 

As a foster mother of many early saints including Brendan, these young souls benefitted not only from her pastoral care but from her gifts as mystic, healer and soul-friend. 

Her symbol of the celtic heart shaped knot speaks of a rhythm of faith that moves into the heart of the cross and spirals outwards to the heart of the world. 
A rhythm of Love between the Sacred Three - Father, Son and Spirit- that reached out to others in invitation. 
A rhythm of courage and humility that fed the vocations of those that moved out across the land. 

The gift of 'nursing' the Christ child is not given to many  - it is not asked for by many. Once we have given ourselves over to God; we imagine that God needs to be the one in charge; we are His children. 

We are not Jesus' children - our relationship is relational - Jesus enters our time zone so that, at times , we are brother and sister; at other times mother and father. The incarnation brings God into our lives as a newborn; utterly helpless; as we have been. 

How hard is that to comprehend?

Who, finding a baby on their doorstep, would willingly take the responsibility of nursing it; of caring for it; of bringing the child up as their own; of being father or mother? 

Who wants to be responsible for the wellbeing of God?

But isn't that what being a disciple is all about?

The desire to say 'yes'.

it may not be seasonal yet it seems appropriate to remind myself of this one word that opens the heart to all that our faith asks of us: 

Blessed be

For Northumbria Community's Sunday Compline see here

Lindisfarne Days - the Sixth Day

Patrick - dear saint of our Isle

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

There's a fair amount of information on St Patrick  this site is fairly open to both legend and fact - such as it is.

Patrick's missionary work was nowhere near Lindisfarne and centuries earlier than the brothers and sisters we celebrate this week.

Which, I suppose, is the point on several levels. 

To be reminded that we are all 'dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants'. That we are all beholden in our belonging and our traditions to those who have gone before. We have all sat at the feet of someone who told us this story that we seek to be a part of. 

Also, that Lindisfarne, and anywhere else that we regard as sacred, may be places for rest and renewal, but our ministry is most often in the place where we live and the people that we meet in our ordinary but 'extraordinary' lives. 

And then, that we should be aware of this world where we live; that the missionaries carried the faith across the country; the holy road led everywhere; reached everyone. And that there are memories are left behind if we only open our eyes.

St Patrick's Well isn't my nearest sacred space but the one I would probably have never visited if I hadn't made the commitment to 'look at the ground beneath my feet'.

Part of the nature reserve - known as the 'Wirral Way' - travels through Bromborough, about five miles from my home.

Bromborough is one of the possible sites of an epic battle in 937, the Battle of Brunanburh, This is the first battle where England came together as one country, to fight the combined forces of the Norsemen and the Scots, and historians consider it the birthplace of England; this area is known as Dibbinsdale being centred around the River Dibbin. It's a mixture of meadow, riverside wetland and retains some of the ancient woodland of the 12th Century forest.

A breath of water and woodland surrounded by busy rush hour traffic; industrial units and a shopping outlet; I have driven past hundreds of times always on my way to 'somewhere else'.
This summer I turned into the sandstone lined lane; came to a halt in the tree encircled car park and took a look at the reserve map with the philosophical comment 'you are here'.

And on one of the many woodland walks there was a label and a small detour over a wooden bridge to a spot marked 'St Patrick's Well'.

St Patrick is reputed to have blessed this well, a scarce source of fresh water at the time, before his mission to Ireland in 432. Tradition or otherwise - this little corner has kept the title ever since.

Water has always been a sacred place in pagan and celtic spirituality. It would make perfect sense as the celts moved from pagan to Christian belief to have their source of water blessed by a man who embodied the strengths of the Druids and the Christian faith. You would wonder why it wasn't more famous; why, indeed, it didn't have it's own pilgrimage trail?

                                                  On seeing the sign I was a little hesitant to go further; what if it was neglected; vandalised; graffittied? What if it was a dreadful disappointment? What if it wasn't even there?

But it was; the walk lead downhill into a sandstone gorge. I found myself following a path below the surface of the modern road - beside the path the runoff from the rain mingled with the cascades of a brook that widened into small river.  An arrowed sign that seemed to lead nowhere and there it was - a small squared-off entrance with markers of ancient masonery held in the grip of the deep roots of a beech tree. The water clear and bright above the debris of nature's leavings - seed pods, twigs, leaves and crab apples.

A certain neglectful elegance; a stillness; a sense of presence that was both spiritual and remarkably mundane.

There was nowhere to sit apart from the floor and the weather wasn't kind - leaning against the rocky outcrop the sound of the traffic above faded into a quiet humm. Any sense of moving on disappeared; stillness descended.

As dogwalkers and bmx bikers passed by there was a sense of timelines crossing; boundaries being pulled down. Sixteen hundred years plus of people coming to the Well; a place of life, of faith, of hope. And here I am today seeking the same refreshment of life.

Even if Patrick hadn't been here although there was a plain-ness and a practicality that would have certainly suited his spirituality - this place, this water was valued; was important; was sacred in a discrete way; sacred enough to remain inviolate. Somewhat returned to Creation; but why not? Why not?

God in the Everyday; the Everywhere - in a walk through woodland; across tidal  sands or sitting in a ancient church. Holy men and women have come before us whether or not we know their names - we are all part of a greater realm - we just have to take the time to step out of the normal way of things now and again.

I count the four hour plus drive to Lindisfarne as well worth it even when it is just for the day; but I can't do it every day.  Perhaps this is a good reminder that before we start out on our pilgrimages of faith we should first know where it is we start from.

As Mary Oliver says:

"Instructions for living a life.

Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it." 

wordinthehand 2012

The Northumbria Community's Compline for Saturday  here

Friday, 31 August 2012

Lindisfarne Days - The Fifth Day

Boisil - Healer and Teacher

                                              Genesis 1:22
God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.
Saint Boisil, Confessor, was a Northumbrian trained  at Lindisfarne Priory by Saint Aidan.  He became a monk and quickly rose to be Prior of Melrose Abbey. Bede tells us that the saint was a man of  virtues as well as an eminent scholar. 

He was widely known and sought after for his herbal remedies, and for his blessing of the healing properties of the two local springs containing iron salts. Interestingly, these wells are clearly marked on the OS maps of today - the Wellbury Well in the bank just below his chapel, and the Hare (corruption of ‘Heir’ meaning ‘Holy’)Well which lies near St Boswells Burn. 

When the young Saint Cuthbert came to Melrose Abbey rather than the more famous Lindisfarne, Boisil welcomed him at the gate and said  to the monks with whom he was standing: "Behold the servant of the Lord". The Abbot soon gave permission for Cuthbert to enter the community, and Boisil ensured that he "watched, prayed, worked and read harder than anyone else". They became great friends. Both were given to travelling amongst the villages neighbouring Melrose and preaching to the local people.

In AD 659,  Boisil became Abbot of Melrose. Two years later, Boisil showed a gift of foresight, or health knowledge,  when a great plague swept through the monastery. Cuthbert was affected by the disease and came close to death, but Boisil confidently announced that he would recover. He also predicted his own death from the same epidemic, to which he, indeed, fell victim. Shortly before the end, Boisil made his most famous prophecy, foretelling that Cuthbert would be a great influence in the Church and would, one day, rise to Bishop.

The growth of the faith may have been led by the lights of saints such as Aidan and Cuthbert - but on their own they could well have fell into legend and folklore. 

The monasteries and abbeys provided places of academic and spiritual learning, a place for a community of faith to develop and support each other; a place for a lineage of faith to grow. 

Whilst having every faith in the gift of prophecy I feel Boisil expressed it through his talents as a teacher; awareness and compassion as a healer. When you take the time to get to know people then you can 'know' a great deal. 

George Bernard Shaw wrote ' he who can - does, he who cannot - teaches'; which becomes a paradox if the 'can' is 'teach'. Christianity became fruitful and filled the villages, farms and lanes with those who could and did - but with thanks to those who could and taught. 

Cuthbert was guarding sheep when Aidan's light called to him - this poem seems appropriate for a Abbot who probably treated his students like so many lambs. 

The images are of the more northerly scottish isles - a reminder of the web of faith that had spread across the land to Lindisfarne and then back out into the world.



The Northumbria Community's Compline for Friday is here

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Lindisfarne Days - the Fourth Day

Ebba -Warrior Princess

Genesis 1:16,17
  God also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth,

Moon through the Rainbow Arch, Lindisfarne Priory

Having just celebrated Ebba's feast day my post on her is here

Another saint with a few legends and fewer facts considering her position as prioress of the double monastery at Coldingham.  The reports tell that she was a devout and holy woman so suggests that perhaps she wasn't particularly interested in promoting her own achievements to the world. Some people make better stars than suns and moons.

As the sister of Oswald and Oswy she certainly had great value as a marriage partner. But although some tales tell that she entered religious life to escape the attentions of a prince; as a new found Christian this may not have been a decision forced upon her. 

it may well have been that, like her brothers, Ebba saw herself as not as a handmaid but as a soldier of Christ (a name the Irish monks had used for themselves) and took on the vocation of teacher and missionary with all the academic and diplomatic skills that the royal household will have taught her. The Angles of the North-East would not have been pushovers. And Wilfrid has her to thank for settling more than one dispute between him and her nephew Ecgfrith the then King of Northumbria; including getting him out of Dunbar prison for acting like a lord rather than a monk.

That she was not so canny at running the monastery is a great criticism of her; however religious life appealed to many members of society as a refuge; avoidance opportunity and retirement home. Not all inhabitants regarded chastity or temperance as particularly important until holy orders were confirmed - and maybe not even then. There wasn't the discernment of vocation that has developed now and, of course,  the communities of religious life were still finding their way and writing their Rules. 

Perhaps  her real skills were in bringing Jesus to those who sought him rather than managing those looking for somewhere to hide. If so, no wonder she would retire and leave them to their own devices. 

Ebba probably never visited Lindisfarne; it seems to have been a male only community - intended, perhaps, to support the choice of celibate living. 

And the cultural, rather than religious practices, would have made it difficult for women to walk the roads as their brothers did. I wonder how much of that decision was made by the women themselves? People seem to always have trouble with St Paul's assertion that there are no 'this or thats' anymore. 

With many men away from home - fishermen, herders, kings - it was the woman who customarily ran the household. Often with great authority, efficiency and hospitality. A monastery was simply a family on a very large scale. 

This pattern of monasteries and missionaries echo the ebb and flow of Celtic life -  wanderers of Christ need somewhere to leave and somwhere to come back to. The hearth was considered to be the woman's spiritual domain. And women's ministry, acknowledged and important as it was, was usually centred around a settled community. 

Being the one with a different calling; a different vision of life has never been easy. I have a great empathy for this woman who - a very unreliable legend has it - cut off her nose to spite her face (there was a prince involved).

 Only to have God restore her. 

This poem is one of a series of Woman's Prayers written on the island - it is inspired by Mary Magdalen - a woman I'm sure Ebba would have welcomed. The other poems are here and here . And the photos are of some of the women who have made it onto the island - in one way or another.

Woman's Prayer - Redeemed

Lord, God of my life
I walk in your footprints
A follower, head bowed
Freed from my demons
I am nothing but yours
I am not worthy

You come to stillness
And say my name
I lift my eyes to yours
A look of invitation
Love’s companion
You take me in your arms
Mercy wrapped in Mercy
And I rest
Clothed in You

Blessed be


The Northumbria Community's Compline for Thursday is here

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Lindisfarne Days - the Third Day

Felgild - the Unknown 
Genesis 1:11
Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed—bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds."

What information there is about Felgild is here

There is so little known about Felgild and I admit that I have never been as far as the Farne Islands. 

It may feel that this day is hardly worthwhile. But then I also agree with the sentiments of the Northumbria Community - the faith is made up mostly of the un-named and the unknown - with thanks to God for having us all written on his hand. 

Like Peter's mother-in-law, Felgild is cured of his illness so that we may be certain that God knows each and every one of us and provides, in one way or another, the means for us to fulfill our particular and perculiar ministries and vocations. 

The history of the Lindisfarne Monks suggests a gathering of at least twelve men with twelve apprentice boys as well as the pastoral and domestic carers needed for such a place to survive. The number of named saints is pretty well limited to the writings of the Venerable Bede. But the faith is more than those who find themselves recorded in history.

Surely there were many, many missionaries carrying the Good News throughout the lands - living out the Good News in their land - surely there are many now?

How is this shown on the island? One way could well be the flora that flourishes here. Most of the island is covered in a matting of greenery and varied vegetation. From a distance or a pacing walk nothing much to look at. Sandals, walking boots and trainers regularly and carelessly cover the ground; climb the cliffs or wander the bridleways without a second glance at what is underfoot. The focus being on where they are going - not where they are now. 

But the life underfoot and spilling from walls and cliffs is precious and unique. Each flower a miracle in itself; a celebration of creative giftedness as they survive the salt winds and coarse sun to bloom in celebration of life calling to life. Some so delicate you would imagine them cossetted in a glasshouse and admired through a lens.

 And here they are; pilgrims from the mainland; hermits in the clefts and gullies of the rockspaces; martyrs in the giving of themselves; saints in the divine beauty that they reveal. And I know hardly any of their names. 

A visit last year resulted in this reflection -

Blessed be

The Northumbria Community's Compline for Wednesday is here