Day 9 – Windisfarne

The Holy Isle of Lindisfarne is a small island off the coast of Northumbria (Northern England). Over the centuries it has been the home of Monastics (most notably Aiden and Columba in the 600’s), the Vikings (who slaughtered the monks), soldiers and mariners. Now mainly it’s pilgrims again, many of whom cross the mud flats to the island while the tide is out. We were driving the causeway to the Island, thinking it was too windy, the tide was still to high, but Nicola very adventurously popped out of the car halfway and walked the remainder of the pilgrims journey.

“I only had to take off my boots a couple times to wade across some little rivers,” she said, on her arrival.

The Isle hosts a castle, a ruined abbey, an ancient church, a quaint village, and lots of grasslands and of course, the obligatory sheep.

On our car ride back to where we were staying, we debriefed as a team. What part of the island resonated with you?

“The wind,” I responded.

Ignoring the museums and information centres, I had spent the day wandering semi aimlessly around the Isle. I’m learning on this pilgrimage, not to be demanding of a place, to require some great epiphany from it, but rather to try and just be present to the place and to attend to the presence of God revealed there.

So as soon as I saw the castle on the eastern tip of the Isle, I knew I wanted to hike there, but as soon as we left the village and stepped out of the lee of the buildings, we stepped into the great blustering gale that was whooshing off the North Sea. I’ve never been in winds like it before, and at points we gleefully held out our arms, and leaned into it, daring it to hold up our body weight. When we stood by the castle on the crest of the hill and looked over the massive crashing waves the wind had formed, it was not hard to imagine the wind tumbling us down the hill into the rolling seas below. It literally took my breath away.

And it blew like that the whole day. I found moments of respite, picking my way among rocks and seaweed and sitting on a bench in the sun on the lee side of the Isle, but by the time we made our way back to the van (against the wind), my body was quite tired out from the effort. Tired but strangely happy.

Sorry the pictures are blurry. I’m using my iPad as a camera, and there was no way to hold it still in the wind, to get a clear picture.

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