My pilgrimage has taken me to Holy Island, one of the Farne islands off the East Coast of England. This was the seat of Christianity for the borders region of Scotland/England. It was settled by Cuthbert, a monk sent out from Iona to evangelize Scotland/England in the mid to late 600’s. This island is much larger than Iona, and is a tidal island, so only accessible during low tide. They even have warning posters showing a nearly submerged vehicle “this could be you.”
There are similarities between Iona and Holy Island, many people come here as a pilgrimage to worship or spend quiet moments in St. Mary’s church, which was established by Aidan one of Cuthbert’s monks. This church suffered similar fate to the Abbey on Iona and was sacked several times by the Vikings. However, this church boasts a written declaration of apology from the king of Norway for the attacks.
There is also a historic aspect to the island, yes, beyond really old churches, there is a Castle on the far end of the island. Lindisfarne Castle was a military garrison on the peak of the island, established to watch for attacks. A neighboring castle, Bambaugh, is across the waters and can just be seen on fair days. Lindisfarne Castle was purchased by a wealthy owner in the early 1920’s and converted it to a family home. Now in the care of the National Trust, it has been maintained in its family condition and is open to viewing.
And there is a quietness to the island that is shared, once the tide comes in and all who are not staying have long since gone. The streets are deserted and there is peaceful calm of only pedestrian traffic. Perhaps thin places require stillness in a busy life, so that we can feel the presence of God.
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