Onward Christian Pilgrims

Wonder Voyages. Heritage Tours. Pilgrim Adventure. Journeying.co.uk … on they come, ever onward. One hundred and forty Norwegians arrived from Stavanger on a ship named M/S Gann, though they had to dock at Newcastle and continue on coaches. This ship is run by Norway’s church. In term time it is a school; in the holidays it takes the general public for cruises. They asked for prayers and songs from Lindisfarne.

A coach-load of pilgrims led by Charles Nienkirchen, Director of the Down Ancient Paths Travel Study Program and Professor of Christian History and Spirituality at Ambrose University College, Calgary, Alberta ‘did’ Holy Island in half a day, having done Whitby and York (was it?) the previous day. I gave them a conducted tour around the priory just before it closed, of the church just as it finished evening worship, ate with them at their hotel, gave them their talk at 9.0 pm and escorted them to our Open Gate Book store, locking it at 10.45pm. When I suggested they might have done well to view the island from the new interpretation watchtower or gaze at St. Cuthbert’s Isle they decided to do those things at 5.0 am before their coach departed sharp at 8.30 am.

Not so a lady who had recently walked from St. Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood Bay on the opposite coast. Not so the kids at the camp here run by the Society of St. Vincent and St. Paul – they have a week here and time to lick ice cream. Not so pilgrim Paul. He searches out solitary places where he may come close to the heart of God. He has been to Mount Athos, Lerins, Farne Isle and now here – lingering in the dunes and places of prayer.

The eight hundred car park spaces seem full. The coaches queue to leave by the narrow road. The walkers, cyclists and motorcyclists wend their way. The Marygate Singers will soon arrive to fill the island with a week’s worth of song. And me? I can’t wait to get to the airport (en route to USA). There I might have time to myself.

Posted at 03:34am on 24th July 2014
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