The small tidal island off the northeast coast of England, speaks of a history where truth and myth coalesce into the misty past. Much like Atlantis, the Garden of Hesperides and Camelot, Lindisfarne is recognized as sacred, set apart from the mundanity of life.
The monastery of Lindisfarne, known as the Lindisfarne Priory, was founded by Irish monk Saint Aidan (590-651). Saint Aidan came from the Island of Iona, the centre of Gaelic monasticism, located off the west Coast of Scotland.
The pious Christian King Oswald, who became king is 634, had a problem. Anglo-Saxon paganism was replacing Christianity. He reached out to his friends in Iona, at a time when he considered all was lost.
The first Ionian to respond was Bishop Cormán, an austere man, with a severe message. The people of Northumbria did not accept him. The feeling was mutual. Bishop Cormán’s opinion on the matter was that people of Northumbria were too stubborn to accept his message. It was very doubtful that their hardened hearts would embrace Christianity.
King Oswald was tenacious. And his persistence was rewarded in the personage of Saint Aidan.
Saint Aidan’s influence was felt throughout Northumbria. He ministered to all, whether slave or noble. The people accepted him and his message. To this day, he is known as a Monk holding a flaming torch so it comes as no surprise that he is the patron saint of firefighters.
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne's modest population of less than 200 people welcomes over 650,000 visitors a year. For many, it is a pilgrimage to one of the most significant centres of Celtic Christianity.
We designate special times and places in our lives as being separate from the ordinary. It is a way to seek order in a seemingly chaotic world that challenges our survival instincts. We need a place that embodies a peaceful existence, a gentle retreat from the busyness of life.
Even so, there is a caveat.
If you find your way to The Holy Island, take heed, for a land causeway that links Lindisfarne to the mainland is covered by ocean tides twice in every 24-hour period. In the most sacred of places, we are still very much a part of a complex world that runs on time.