I have long dreamed of visiting the beautiful little island, three miles long and one mile wide. I had heard it was a ‘thin place’ where God seems close and people meet Him in fresh ways. Recently I was blessed to go there with a friend. It was a wonderful visit, but perhaps not in the way I imagined, for the God of surprises blessed me there in an unexpected way.
Where are You, Lord?
I have visited the Abbey and the museum, walked the grounds and marvelled at this chapter of the history of my faith.
I have read about You and the sprouting of the Christian community here. I have marvelled at the perseverance of men and women who fought the elements, carved the rock, gave their lives for You and for their faith.
I have seen the carvings – significant symbols painstakingly cut in stone centuries ago by talented stonemasons – to pass their faith forward to future generations. Over 1500 years ago these stones were carved, and they have withstood Viking raids and battering storms and everything else in between the world can throw at them.
Yet still they are here.
But where are You, Lord?
In this holy place I have crossed the world to visit; this ‘thin place’ where many encounter You in fresh ways, in deep ways; where must I go on this island to find You?
I have sought You in the ancient places where the cameras click and the monks chant their recorded songs. I have hunted for You in the books that line the shelves of the gift shops. I have wandered, calling You as I gaze at wild birds tossing in the wind, and as I delight in the call of the corncrake.
I have searched on the ferry and in the silence of my room with the beautiful view, across green lawns. I have looked for You in quiet country lanes.
As I stand on the remote, untamed beach with the waves at my feet and the seagulls crying in the wind, and gaze at the beauty of the sunlight on water that reflects the blue sky back to the heavens, I ask again into the clear light that the north wind brings,
‘Where are You, Lord?’
Only then do I hear the whispered reply in my heart,
‘I am here, with you, as I always have been, and always will be.’
And, for a fleeting moment, I am sad that I did not understand before. For no matter how ‘thin’ the place is where I find myself, You are with me anyway, because You are my Lord and because that is what You have promised me.
I feel this way for a mere moment in time before my heart swells in an anthem of praise.
‘Here You are, Lord!’ With me as always!’
Suddenly the air is filled with ripples of glory as Your presence breaks through, Lord, and my heart is flooded with Your light and Your love.
On this day, I have met You again, my Lord, as I have many times before. I do not have to stay on the island; nor do I have to leave You behind here for You will go with me as You always do, when the ferry pulls away from the shore and I set my face towards new adventures.
The island is indeed a special place. You, my Lord, are here!