Listening for God’s word in the wild

Dear friends,

A couple of weeks ago we were on holiday in beautiful Northumberland, where we caught up with our son and daughter-in-law who are now working at a Christian retreat centre there. As usual, when we visit this wild and frequently deserted coastline, we headed over the causeway to Lindisfarne, as this island is one of our favourite places in the region. We visit it to try to capture the peace of this famous retreat, where generations of monks once attempted to escape from the world, and it wasn’t long before we were walking on the hill above the ruins of the priory, with only the sea birds for company. We were particularly blessed to see a small, but perfectly formed, starling murmuration swooping over the castle on the headland, something we always look out for in that sort of landscape – but rarely see!

The experience made us wonder again what Aidan and Cuthbert, seventh century Christian evangelists to pagan Northumbria, would have made of the vague attempts of modern visitors to try to experience in just one day what they spent a lifetime of prayer and physical endurance achieving – the lived experience of being alone with God. Lindisfarne is also known as Holy Island, which means that it was set apart for prayer and contemplation, and to many people it is still a ‘thin’ place, where we meet God more readily and in a different way from our normal everyday experience of Him. It is vital that there are times and places where we can sit, reflect and listen carefully to God’s voice, so we hope that those who, like us, were pilgrims just as much as tourists, were able to find some of the peace and heartfelt rest that Aidan and Cuthbert knew all those years ago, and to hear God’s voice in the silence.

The writer of the reflection given on Lectio365 last Thursday, made a similar comment when he asked how often we stop to rest and think before we embark on yet another Christian adventure. He prayed that the God of the wilderness would lead us to where we are lost and found again, as we listen for His word in the wild. The good news is that we don’t always have to travel to the remote places of the world to do it – just resting in His presence is enough, in whatever wild circumstances you find yourself.

With our love and prayers,
Matthew and Pauline