As we drove up to Edinburgh, we saw a sign saying, “Lindisfarne 5m.”
We knew about the holy island and the monastery that had been founded there. We knew a little of its history – that a beautiful book of the gospels had been made there, that it had been raided by the Vikings in 793, that this raid was one of the first made by the Vikings, so it was utterly shocking, that the monks had eventually fled, carrying the body of their saint with them, that they had found refuge in Durham, and in time, returned and re-built the priory.
We had no time that day, but driving back, the tides were just right. Lindisfarne is an island of sorts, accessible over a causeway at low tide, but cut off from the mainland twice a day.
It was a beautiful day, blue and sunny, with just a hint of a breeze. We drove out over the causeway, and reached the margins of land and sea. The priory has long since fallen into ruin, but the walls remain, and a few graceful arches.
(Image from Wikimedia Commons. Description: walls without roofs, arches, green grass, soft blue sky.)
I found myself thinking about the marginal existence of the people who had lived there, not quite on land, not quite on sea. The air was very clear, and the sea blue out to the horizon. I felt that I could see forever. I wanted to stay there and think, even meditate, which is not something that comes naturally to me. I am a perpetually busy person, always with something to do, and even when I sit down to watch TV, I tend to pick up my knitting. This place made me want to stop, just for a few hours.
(Description: low sea scape, land on the right had side, part of the island on the left, very blue sea, no waves, still and clear)
I suppose that Lindisfarne is not always so peaceful, and that often as not, wind and waves are howling. But on the day we were there, it was glorious.
Also, there were no Vikings.
(Description: small shallow beach, almost a harbour, fishing boats and cars, stone building on the left, green grass in the foreground, sea stretching to the horizon, no Vikings)