Go North, My Friend, Go North

It took twenty seven hours from door to door: two trains, one overnight ferry, hired car drives and ferries across two more islands. I could have flown to Australia and almost back to Hong Kong in that time. In fact I am still in Britain, on the island of Fetlar, in the far north Shetland Isles. A notice in the car warns us to keep hold of the door lest high winds damage it. If we sit on a public toilet we read local poetry from 'Bards of the Bog'. Locals say they are more Norse than Scots. Their history is Viking and their nearest rail station is Bergen!

They say here there is the season and the rest of the year. The season consists of July! Our host is a naturalist. We watch a red-necked phalarope days before it flies back to Peru

We have a day on the next island of Unst. We see Viking heritage and Bobby's Bus Shelter. Bobby used to leave his cycle there, bus to and from school, and cycle home. When the Council decided to close the bus shelter he wrote them a memorable letter about his bicycle. They changed their minds, Now, 'Bobby's Bus Shelter' has flowers, childrens puzzles, a desk, telephone and artwork splendidly maintained to the delight of bus users and passers-by alike.

Why have we come? To be, to write, to renew friendship. We stay at The Glebe, the new House of Prayer sustained by our Community of Aidan and Hilda Co-Guardian Graham Booth and his wife Ruth. Graham can continue his work as a guardian of the dispersed community because of the internet (he has an office and will now edit our quarterly Aidan Way from here), because they have a camper van in which they can tour UK for seasons, and because Norway, where our community flourishes, is so near. I have come with Judith, who is librarian of our Community's library on Lindisfarne, and she will sort Graham's library.

There is something more. Next to The Glebe House (The Old Manse) is Papil Water, the site of a Columban monastic community (the water named after The Papas or Fathers). Along the road a solitary, Mother Mary Agnes established her Society of Our Lady of the Isles and the Saint Sunniva Skete, and an Orthodox solitary, another Mother Mary, lived nearby. Graham has been a good colleague. Now, for health reasons, they have re-located to Unst. There, in the most northern part of Britain, they watch and pray over northern Britain. We visited their new buildings. We stood on the most northern shore of Britain. I prayed our Midday Prayer for northern Britain: .May it become a place of The Beatitudes - her peoples humbled, purified and re-united with Christ's servants of every nationality. We also prayed in the most northern church in Britain, the Methodist Church rebuilt in 1993 by Revd. Douglas Graham, our friend who has links with Lindisfarne. Ancient foundations are coming alive again,

Posted at 02:14am on 18th July 2017
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