It being St Cuthbert’s day, my thoughts go to Lindisfarne. In the Parish Church of St Mary there is a huge life-size sculpture called The Journey. It is very tactile and butch and solid. I love to stroke it when I am there for it seems to give comfort and reassurance. The sculpture shows St Cuthbert’s body being carried from Holy Island in the year 698 to its final resting place in Durham Cathedral two hundred years later.
There was once a poem beside it which I copied but I’m afraid I didn’t note the author.
Life was always risky there
on our beloved almost-island home
to saint and elder, but no longer safe.
The northern raiders
drawn by the fabled riches of his shrine
swooped to destroy and plunder,
so, we had no choice
but exile, flight to seek sanctuary
for his dear bones.
With our precious cargo
we trod the shifting sands, so desolate
haunted by curlew song; that plaintive cry
rang in our ears, our hearts were numb
with loss, leaving our home,
the Holy Island where we’d lived
the God we loved, to worship constantly
in prayer and song.
Bold with his boldness
and trusting in His truth we
Seeking the place we knew He had prepared.
As far from home, we missed the murmuring sea,
the cry of the wild goose. For many months
we searched, until we found a sheltered place
by a broad river where seabirds sought refuge. Our haven too.
There we laid him
building a shrine we laid his bones to rest
resumed the prayerful rhythm of our days;
yet still unrest and strife pursued us there,
as we, in truth, suspected. Pilgrims all
our glory still to come; our destiny
uncertain here, but untold beauty waits
beyond that journey.