It was too windy to go out to the Farne Islands on Wednesday last week so I walked from Bamburgh around the coast to Budle Bay then back by way of the Spindle Stone. I could not help looking back at the castle and realising how close it was to the Inner Farnes . It was then I got cross with Cuthbert! He had his hermitage on the Inner Farnes. The king lived at Bamburgh Castle. It is one thing feeling you have a vocation to be a hermit. Its another to go grand standing about it. "Look at me I'm a holy hermit living on next to nothing in the middle of the sea?"
By the time I'd walked the circuit I'd come to terms with what he had done. I realised I thought nothing in mounting the steps of a pulpit and preaching in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Cuthbert's enacted example was far more costly and communicated deep and uncomfortable truths that are still resonate.
Life is precarious, it mattered little if you were a fighting king or a hermit. Oswiu had come to power on the death of his brother Oswald at the Battle of Maresfield in 642 , their father Aelfrith had also died in battle. And even though 21st century man lives much longer death cannot be avoided anymore than a sandcastle's collapse at the advance of the in-coming tide!
"Draw near to God and he will draw near to you..." are encouraging words but yet each of us must do so on our own. No one can do it for you. "Come apart and rest a while!" says the Lord. "Consider the birds and the flowers of the field." And in following the path he trod we must go out into the wilderness. It is not an option to stay in the warm drinking, ale and feasting.
The next day the wind had dropped and I was able to go out and wander among nesting sea birds - Puffins, Guilemots, Razor Bill, Kittiwakes, Shags and Terns. It was wonderful
I thought there were not as many Eider Duck as last time I visited. St. Cuthbert had banned the killing of Eider Ducks, the first species to be protected by law! As I came ashore onto the Inner Farne and the Arctic Terns started attacking my fellow visitors I formed the opinion that the terns did not appreciate being disturbed by visitors. Nor yet did Cuthbert