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St Cuthbert and St Aidan at Lindisfarne and the Farne Islands
Sunday 7th July 2019
Journeying recently had a journey to Lindisfarne and the Farne Islands. In our reflections, we followed the Celtic saints who brought Christianity to the English in the north of England.
St Oswald, the Northumbrian King, who had been raised on Iona where he accepted Christ, invited monks from Iona to teach his people about Christ. After a first, unsuccessful attempt, Iona sent Aidan (Saint Aidan) to fulfil this mission. Aidan, whose name means flame, was on fire for Christ, but he was also gentle and discreet. He listened to people, great and small, and met them where they were. He loved everyone as a child of God but saw their need for Christ and believed the Gospel to be the greatest gift he could give them.
We also considered his, possibly more famous, successor, St Cuthbert, the Fire of the North. Cuthbert came to Lindisfarne after the Synod of Whitby, which had chosen the Roman, not Celtic tradition; but Cuthbert had been trained in the Celtic tradition and bridged the transition to Rome.
Both Aidan and Cuthbert valued the peace to be found on Lindisfarne - when the tide comes in. I imagine, then, like now, when the tide goes out the visitors flock(ed) in looking for a soundbite of spirituality in a couple of hours on the island. What Aidan and Cuthbert lived was a deep contemplative spirituality that spent hours and hours in silent prayer. They both spent time alone on another island, Inner Farne, now a National Trust bird sanctuary only accessible by boat (also part of our Journeying). We were challenged by the commitment and love of these early Celtic saints who dedicated their whole lives to following Christ. We, like them, grew to love the beauty and peace of this corner of the country, where it is still possible to find the space to connect with God.