Monday, 14 February 2011

Holy Island... and National Marriage Week

After a rather over-busy few weeks, I knew I needed a Quiet Day. Having nothing booked formally, I drove up to Lindisfarne - re-named by Benedictine monks from Durham as "Holy Island" though of course the original monastic foundation goes back to its establishment by St. Aidan in the seventh century.

Because the causeway to the island is tidal, there's a discipline required in working out when to go there - consult the Tide Tables! A further discipline of patience was required on the last leg of the journey when I found myself in a long queue of traffic held up by work on the East Coast mainline level crossing at Beal, just before reaching the causeway. Several drivers turned their cars round and drove off - I wonder what else they thought they would do when they must have travelled some distance to get that far?

Once I was on the island, the clouds broke up, the sun came out and the weather turned quite mild. There's something special about the quality of the air and light on Holy Island. And while there were other cars in the car park there were few people about to disturb the stillness.

I wonder how many visitors make it beyond the confines of the village - or at best the Castle? A few venture to St. Cuthbert's Island, crunching over the mussels and slipping on the seaweed. But very few go more than half a mile from the centre of the village over muddy tracks or along the coastal path to explore the dunes and discover vast expanses of sandy beach, rocky bays, cliffs and the lough with its hide. It's sometimes possible to walk more than halfway round the island without meeting anyone - and in between the dunes there are areas where even the sound of the sea is blocked out.

I'm not all that keen on the "Celtic Christianity industry" - but come to Lindisfarne and you can understand how the monks who established themselves there found a sort of "desert" in which their lives of prayer could flourish. And it's all just off the A1, which I could have got back to very quickly at the end of the day - if Balfour Beatty hadn't still been continuing their work on the level crossing.

There are more pictures of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne here. The shutter button on my ageing mobile phone isn't working too well - so sometimes it didn't work quite when intended!

And on Sunday I tackled the hard sayings of Jesus found in the Gospel reading from Matthew 5 - with particular reference to his words concerning marriage and divorce - click here! The day ended with my being interviewed for Metro Radio in connection with National Marriage Week. The idea was that it would go out in snippets at various times today - if you hear any of it, let me know!

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