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Columba’s Bay

There is a strong sense of “pilgrimage” in the spiritual raditions of Britain.  A “pilgrimage” is a spiritual walk (hike) of refection and prayer.  Today it is often a venture into the past history of Christianity as a way of getting in touch with the Lord’s ongoing work in today’s world.  For ancient Celtic Christians, the notion of pilgrimage had a distinctly future orientation.  A pilgrimage was (is?) venturing for the Lord into the unknown guided only by the active presence of the Holy Spirit. Tuesday, August 2nd, we went on a pilgrimage to Columba’s Bay.  It amounted to a seven mile hike out to the place where Saint Columba landed in 563 A. D.  The weather was wet and cool (about 65 degrees F – this probably sounds like heaven given what Fort Worth and much of the U. S. has been going through this summer; it was!).  Mist and fog surrounded the crashing waves on the rocks of Columba’s Bay.  The sense of isolation was palatable.  It must have taken enormous courage to leave home, family and friends and sail into the unknown guided only by the winds of the Spirit. Standing on the desolate beach I found myself deeply moved and inspired by the faithfulness and courage of those early Christ followers and; yes, love they had for those who did not know Christ.  They sought to take the gospel of God’s love in Christ through the Holy Spirit to wild and violent people.  I have trouble taking the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to my passive neighbor across the street.  Watching the waves pound in through the rock and onto the beach, I found myself convicted by St. Columba. A number of different writers (including Rev. George MacLeod who founded the modern Iona Abbey Community) talk of there being “thin places” between heaven and earth.  I am not sure I wholly subscribe to the concept for it seems often used as a rationalization for preserving a building over engaging in ministry outreach.  Still, in the nature-filled music of Columba’s Bay those of us on pilgrimage become quiet.  The boundary between heaven and earth was stretched thin.