SITEZINE: HOLY ISLAND'S E-MAIL MAGAZINE June 2020
A BIT FROM ME Geoff Porter
Holy 
      
 
 
 
 
 Island Times
Holy Island Times (May)

Dear Subscriber,

Welcome to our June newsletter - again coming to you as the entire nation attempts to lessen 'lock-down' measures.

News media reports lock-down measures vary from country-to-country. Hopefully, under the auspices of the World Health Organisation, all nations will come to terms with this latest CoVid virus strain. It is in every respect, crippling to well-being and economy alike.

Reduced measures vary between the three nations of the UK. How all nations will 'come to terms' is going to be unbelievably complicated.

'Holy Islanders' are extremely concerned over any reduction in lock-down measures. A large proportion of our community is identified as vulnerable to CoVid19. 'Social-distancing' is not possible on our streets and pathways. Signage extending from the A1 trunk road advises that all our public car parks and toilets are closed. Lindisfarne Castle and Priory are closed. All our businesses are closed.

We worry that any reduction in any consideration over lock-down measures the authorities will prioritise the well-being of our minuscule population over the hundreds of thousands waiting to visit our shores.

Amongst those who wrote to us last month was previous resident Derek who after remarking 'the news of lockdown dominated last month's issue' went on to say 'the indomitable spirit of the islanders is definitely apparent .... the best of luck to everyone .... " Thank you Derek and Chris - we remember your part in the 'Holy Island Jazz & Blues Festivals' - you are missed.

Another previous resident we have heard from who left the island nearly 20 years ago is artist Wendy Harmon. Wendy used to display her paintings at the doorway (and up the staircase!) of 'Cuddy House'. Thank you for sending a copy of your lovely oil painting, Wendy.

Wendy 
      
 
 
 
 
 Harmon
'THINKING OF HOLY ISLAND'
from Wendy Harmon

We also heard from Ian and Joy who worked so hard for St.Mary's and the PCC making many friends on the island. They have moved further afield from Lowick to the Wirral to be nearer to their daughter. Do keep in touch.

We hope you will enjoy this month's articles from our hard-working Island-authors - although Ian has had to distance himself from us for the time being until a relaxation in lock-down criteria. And as a special local bonus for you, Canon Rev Kate Tristram has compiled an article on 'Noddies' under the direction of Island-born Sarah Nesbit.

As we asked last month, may we offer to our many friends and would-be visitors, a huge thank you for NOT visiting us.

We hope that you enjoy our June newsletter and look forward (Deo volente) to getting in touch in July.

God Bless and Stay Safe,

Geoff Porter
Editor (SitEzine)
editor@lindisfarne.org.uk
www.lindisfarne.org.uk/ezine

PS: The two pictures below and in header are a reminder that we have vibrant community in touch with the proud heritage of our nation and our gratitude to those whose work is at the coal face as the rest of us play our part in overcoming the pandemic.

lockdown
HOLY ISLAND CofE FIRST SCHOOL Heather Stiansen

In these unusual times, a little bit of routine gives us a feeling of normality and Brian has helped us with that as he has continued to keep our school field looking very smart. Thank you Brian. And after the last bit of rain, the field is just about 'sports day ready'. But as we all know, this year, the likelihood of that great, exciting and fun event taking place is very slim. Our school remains closed until the Government lets us know that it is safe for our children to return.

We have continued to help our children at home through online links to learning platforms that support our curriculum and have also offered the children project based tasks. Here on the island, Scarlett-Beau and Lily-Ella have enjoyed shape hunts and have a wild flower checklist to use over the weeks as they are out and about. They have both been busy with extra tasks and activities which they collect from our drop off box on the yard. Well done girls!

There has been a lot going on for the girls while they have been at home. The tooth fairy has visited the island twice recently as Scarlett-Beau has lost her first two teeth. I hear that the fairy was very generous! Lily-Ella has learned to ride her bike without stabilisers - I'm sure you'll have seen her riding proudly around the village. The weather has been lovely and they have had beach days, garden days and lots of good walks. I'm really missing the girls and I'm looking forward to getting back to the normality and routine of our school days - we all hope that it won't be too long to wait.

The little meadow area on the field has been looking beautiful and is filled with willowy purple blooms. I think they may be wild Cranesbill. In the garden we have eventually cleared most of the remaining sprouts out to make more room for new crops. The sprouts had gone to seed but were too striking to move! The frothy clouds of the palest yellow were a magnet for the bees - we've left a couple in just for them! We have planted our brassicas and we have broad, runner and French beans ready to go in the raised beds. And thank you to Sheila and David Lishman for their kind donation of leeks - I remember the girls planting them last year. I hope we'll be able to re-start our gardening club soon.

The greenhouse has been put to great use and is full to the brim! A friend of ours, Tom Pattinson, has very kindly donated some plants to the garden. Tom writes a gardening column in the Northumberland Gazette. We now have sweetcorn, tomatoes, onions, courgettes and lettuce!  Thank you Tom. In the school house garden, we are very excited that our blue Himalayan poppies seem to be thriving. There are buds coming up and this has never happened before! I'll let you know what happens.

On the island there continues to be a wonderful supportive atmosphere for us all. At school we are taking guidance and information about the national and regional situation and will respond to any update. We are keeping parents informed through telephone calls, our website, email and Facebook page. Please take care and stay safe and well. I'm still looking forward to that coffee morning - I wonder what kind of cake we should have?

Heather Stiansen
heather.stiansen@lowick.northumberland.sch.uk
www.lowickholyislandschools.org.uk

IN MEMORY OF THE 'NODDIES' compiled by Kate Tristram

Apparently, before the road was constructed in 1954,the pairs of horse and cart were called 'Noddies'. I got this information from Mr. John Davis, who has an interest in the history of the Postal Service, and who wrote to Sarah (Nesbit) after she spoke on our recent television  programme about the Island.  He had done some research in  the National Postal Museum in London, and he sent copies of an article written in 1938. I thought it would be of great interest on the Island, so I have copied the first part, describing one of these Noddies:

"At Beal railway station we had watched the mail being loaded into a high-wheeled trap drawn by a powerful horse. The reason for the high wheels was soon apparent  for the driver turned the horse's head towards  Holy Island and drove out into the waves.

"It is quite all right" he called as we gazed at the horse trotting deeper and deeper into the sea.  "Follow me in your car.  There is a sandy causeway across to the Island and the route is marked by poles."

We took the plunge gingerly... The sea was calm, but we learned later that it can be very rough, and mail cart and horse have many times been completely swamped.

Halfway across we drove on to some wet sand from which the tide had receded and had a look at the Crow's Nest.  This was a wooden box erected on poles and used as a refuge for travellers caught by the tide while making the crossing.

On to the Island and to the Post Office.   There we met Mr. Robert Bell the Sub-Postmaster, who has held office since 1905.  His father was post-master before him, his grandfather and his great grandfather before that.  "Ever since there was a post office here," he said, "the appointment has been held by a Bell.  And ever since this old house was built - and that's hundreds of years ago - the Bells have lived in it."

The mail was unloaded and the horse rubbed down and stabled.  We sat in the sun outside the Post Office and looked up at the great ruins of the Priory on the side of he village square"

So it was natural for Mr. John Davis to ask Sarah if she was related to the Bells.

She is indeed. She is one of three granddaughters of the last Robert Bell. They are Mrs. Eleanor Garven (now living in Newcastle), Mrs. Sarah Nesbit and Mrs. Eleanor Glover, both now living on the Island. Of these the first two are sisters and the third a cousin.

If anyone has a longer memory, or perhaps a family tradition which could add to what is written here I'm sure we would all love to know.

Kate

Noddies
THE CROSSMAN HALL David O'Connor
Author: David O'Connor

We remain in the grip of CORVID 19 and much of the month was involved in cancelling off-Island bookings and evaluating how many bookings we have for August & September and if the 'lock-down' continues will need to be cancelled.

Because of COVID 19, the hall is experiencing significance financial losses. It's grand to enjoy a quiet stroll around the village without being harried by visitors. But we must also remember the hundreds of thousands of pounds of revenue lost to this small Island economy. The closure of hotels, B&B's, cottages, pubs, shops & cafes that have a continuing need to be maintained and insured, as well as loans and mortgages to be serviced.  The restriction on all businesses will impact heavily on the Island economy and not forgetting the people who make the business happen, the Staff. However, if this devastating virus, that has so many people frightened, is unleashed on the Island, the impact on the population would be devastating.

Even empty buildings need TLC. Insurance companies set standards of security and maintenance for properties they protect. For example, our insurance provider requires a weekly inspection by a competent person, who, if necessary is able to identify and fix a problem. They also authorised the Trustees to permit Mikey and Jack to use the Hall for their project helping out the NHS.                                  

Supplying PPE to the NHS Mikey, aided by Jack & Magda continue to produce Full Face Visors in the Mel Walker Memorial Room for the NHS. By mid-May 700+ had been manufactured and passed to the NHS. BUT PRODUCTION WAS HALTED FOLLOWING A DEMAND FROM A GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT FOR SAFETY TESTING - COST OF TEST 3,000. The same Government that appealed for VOLUNTEERS to do this and other work.

REMINDER The hall is available for local use. Tables and chairs are set out in the main room that meet the required social distance 2m spacing for urgent meetings with a maximum of 10 to 14 attendees and of course the building is available for any emergency. Cleansers for hands and surfaces are available.

The Heating Engineer arrived on site, serviced and repaired the equipment and he'll return next week to fit a pipework knuckle next.

St Cuthbert's Way Ultra International 100km Run  - from Melrose to the Island with Prize giving in the Hall on 11 July has been postponed until 2021. Well it will give's a little more training time for this non-stop run!!!!

Finally CONGRATULATIONS to Andrew & Kirsty on the birth of their son, Nathan Mathew - Andrew is a hall Trustee.

Stay safe & well out there.

David O'
Secretary/Trustee
doconna@hotmail.com

OUR NATURALIST ON LINDISFARNE Ian Kerr
Author - Ian Kerr

FULMARS: THE LONG-DISTANCE TRAVELLERS OF COVES HAVEN

On a warm summer's day when I'm feeling a bit idle I like to sit above the cliffs at Coves Haven and enjoy one of our most striking breeding seabirds, the Fulmars.

Riding up-draughts from the rocks and water below, they too seem to be enjoying themselves as they effortlessly sail back and forth on stiff grey wings just a few feet away. They are as curious as I am, heads turning at each pass to take me in with large dark eyes. I sometimes wonder who is really watching who.

When they've satisfied their curiosity or simply become tired of my company they land out of sight on the ledges below with harsh cackling greetings from mates either incubating their single egg or brooding a downy youngster.

The Coves have a special place in the Fulmar world. It was their first Northumbrian nesting site in 1928 when, on the back of a booming fishing industry, their population rapidly expanded and they began to spread right around Britain from their previous stronghold on the remote Scottish island of St Kilda.

They are members of a very large oceanic family known as "tubenoses." They range from the tiny Storm Petrel, the smallest of all seabirds and not much bigger than sparrows, right up to the largest albatrosses cruising the Southern oceans on massive ten-foot wings.

Greeting ceremony
Greeting ceremony: Fulmars at a nesting site.
Photos: Mike S Hodgson

They get their name from the rather odd-looking arrangement of exterior nostrils above or alongside their bills which give them a large-headed appearance. Entirely dependent on plankton, squid and fish, the structure is believed to be an adaptation to getting rid of salt from their systems.

Unlike gulls which are really coastal inhabitants, "tubenoses" are birds of the vast open oceans, revelling in riding the winds, and only need to come to land is to breed. The rest of their lives are usually spent far from the sight of land although occasionally, in fine spells in winter, Fulmars will return as if to check on their nesting sites at places like the Coves. 

The name Fulmar may be an adaption of their old Viking name which roughly translates as "foul gull." The Norsemen obviously knew their Fulmars and, in particular, their methods of defence.  When threatened they squirt out a jet of the most horribly smelly fish oil which, take my word for it, no detergent can ever remove from clothing.

On St Kilda, right into the 20th Century, the islanders' economy was based on Fulmars and Gannets. Using basic ropes they would swing down terrifying precipitous cliffs to collect eggs, fat young and to net adults. They must have had a knack of grabbing the birds to prevent them squirting their oil.

From this rather grisly harvest, the bodies were drained of their oil for cooking and lighting and it was also claimed to have medicinal properties. The flesh was salted and stored for winter use. The feathers and down were a cash crop, exported to mainland buyers.  Anything left over was dug as a rich natural fertiliser into the vegetable patches of the island crofts. Nothing was wasted.

When I'm at the Coves I often wonder how far our local Fulmars wander to feed during the breeding season. Not so long ago when a bird flew out of sight no-one knew where it was going or what it was doing.

juvenile_Puffin
The strange "tubenose" arrangement shows well in this study of a Northumbrian Fulmar.
Photos: Mike S Hodgson

Technology has changed all that.  Now satellite tags and other miniaturised gadgetry have been fitted to many seabirds and some of the results have been absolutely staggering.  One pair of Fulmars studied for 11 successive breeding seasons on a Scottish breeding site proved that point.

Their breeding season is long, usually lasting until August, and birds have been known to be absent from their mates for considerable periods. Just how long was demonstrated by this pair. The male, fitted with a tracker, ended his incubation shift when his mate took over. He spent the next two days sitting on a calm sea patiently waiting for the right winds.  He then flew to a rich feeding area between the Shetlands and the Faroe Islands where he remained for a day. He then set off suddenly, swiftly and purposefully flying for almost three days eastwards, two thirds of the way to Canada. Arriving in an area where warm Atlantic water and cold Arctic currents meet, creating an explosion of plankton, he feasted for three days. 

He then returned across the ocean via the west coast of Ireland and the Hebrides to rejoin his mate at their Scottish site. He'd covered an incredible 3,900 miles in his feeding trip.  Back at the nest, the pair briefly greeted each-other with courtship calling before he took over and the female went off to feed.

Scientists believe that his fast and straight flight across the Atlantic to the spot frequented by many thousands of seabirds from Scandinavia, Iceland, Greenland, Canada and America proved that he knew exactly where he was going. He'd probably been making the same trip for many years. Fulmars can live for over 50 years and obviously learn a lot in that time.  To visit an area so rich in food obviously made such a long journey worthwhile.

Probably many thousands of other British birds, including perhaps our own Fulmars at the Coves, are making similar long-distance journeys to favoured spots. 

Now I'm sure you'll understand why I find it so fascinating to watch these Fulmars and, of course, wonder what they've really been up to when they're out of sight!

LINDISFARNE CASTLE Nick Lewis

Next time you find yourself walking through the churchyard, past the Crossman plot round to the front door of St Mary's Church; cast your eyes to the gravestones on your left. Among the weathering sandstone slabs stands a rather grand-looking Victorian memorial to a man called Charles Whyte. Although the inscription is badly weathered, it is possible to make out the important details about the man but for a fuller story to emerge, it took a health crisis, me working from home, and the free access to online genealogy websites now available in these circumstances.

Charles Whyte was born on the banks of Loch Tay in the Scottish Highlands in 1775. Quite how he ended up on the Island is unknown, but we first hear of him on 28 October 1813 when he married Jane Davison in the church. The vicar Lancelot Wilson wrote down Whyte's profession in the register as 'Master Gunner' and his residence as Holy Island Castle. In 1819 he bought a piece of land north of the castle from Lord of the Manor Henry Collingwood Selby in order to plant a garden. I had known for a while that Whyte was Master Gunner here in 1824, which always confused me as the guns had been removed five years earlier. However, his job was really to keep an eye on the place and make sure it was in condition to be used by the army should the need arise. Unlike most similar forts in the country, Whyte wasn't assisted by a group of invalids; he worked alone. The Crossman Papers at Berwick Archive record Whyte as having bought land on Marygate and Green Lane in 1828 and 1837 respectively, and in 1836 he wrote to Earl Grey to tender his resignation as Master Gunner. Whyte then appears on the 1841 and 1851 census returns as living as a Chelsea Pensioner on the Island - in 1851 he lived on Quarry Road (I wonder if that's now Sandham Lane?) with his second wife Isabella. Whyte died on 20 January 1855 and was buried in the churchyard; and whoever chose his burial spot did so with real fondness for the man. Standing behind the stone and looking eastwards, framed by the Priory church on the left and the fortified eastern extension of the monastic site to the right, lies the castle Whyte looked after for quarter of a century. Of the gunners buried in the churchyard, I think his is the only grave with a view of the castle. And what of the garden he laid out north of the castle? Well of course, fifty-one years after his death, Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens drew up plans for a garden on the site of Whyte's old plot, and five years after that, a garden was planted. Perhaps then Master Gunner Charles Whyte is due a more prominent place in our story.

I feel quite a connection to Charles Whyte, mainly in that I share many of his tasks in terms of looking after the castle and of course neither of us have/had any cannon to play with. Whyte was no stranger to situations like the present health crisis having lived through the Cholera epidemic of 1834, although I'm not sure he'd have been worried about opening the castle up to visitors. Some National Trust coastal and countryside places are now back open, and while the phased reopening of other places is gathering momentum, the nature of Lindisfarne as a site and as a building mean it will be a little longer before we can open our doors again. Daniel and I continue to do our checks (again, thanks to Danny's webcam at Belvue!) and catch up on as much as we can while we are in this situation. We are mainly working from home so that makes our visits to the castle all the more special; it was nice to see the fulmars soaring around the Upper Battery the other day totally oblivious to humanity's struggles. For more regular updates from us please keep an eye on our Twitter and Instagram accounts, including my not-at-all cringeworthy videos behind the scenes!

Best wishes,

Nick Lewis, Lindisfarne Castle
nick.lewis@nationaltrust.org.uk  @NTNorthd_Coast  01289 389903

NATURAL ENGLAND LINDISFARNE NNR Andy Denton

With lock-down restrictions easing slightly over the past week it feels a bit like we have skipped spring and emerged straight into summer. Swifts and Swallows are now a regular feature in the skies and Shorebirds have arrived back from their wintering grounds and have been busy setting up breeding territories. For us at Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve it is our cue to dust down the protective fencing and signs and install them at several key sites around the Reserve. From now on, until the birds fledge, we will be monitoring the breeding success at these sites. An important job as many shorebirds are considered vulnerable.

Greeting ceremony
Ringed Plover...

Three species of tern breed on the Reserve; Arctic, Common and the rarest breeding tern - the Little Tern. These tiny birds, weighing about the same as a tennis ball, have returned to Lindisfarne over the last few weeks from their wintering grounds in West Africa. The high pitched calls have joined the summer chorus of breeding birds on the Reserve. Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve is a haven for these birds due to the long stretches of soft sandy beaches, perfect for nesting, and the adjacent rich shallow waters of the North Sea. However, Little Terns have declined across the UK due to three main threats; climate change, predation and human and dog disturbance.

Ringed Plovers have also declined by 40% across the UK in just the last 10 years, a figure that is mirrored by several other species of wader. This puts them on the red list, highlighting them amongst the most threatened species in the UK. At Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve we have the most important breeding site for Ringed Plover in the North East but this has declined significantly within the last 40 years. The main reason for this is human and dog disturbance along our increasingly busy coastline.

Ringed Plovers are not colony nesters, with nests (a simple cup in the sand) dotted along the coastline. This makes them even more prone to disturbance as people don't realise the birds are there. They are much more aware of people than people are of them and will retreat long before they reached.

There are a number of things that you can do to help protect our breeding shorebirds when visiting the Reserve.

  • Keep dogs on a short lead at all times on the Reserve. This includes all beaches from Cheswick to the southern end of Budle Bay.
  • Adhere to seasonal restrictions that are in place.
  • Don't approach any protective fencing that has been installed - give it a wide berth
  • Walk along the wet sand on beaches - many of the Shorebirds will be nesting in the soft sand above the high tide line
  • Read all signs when entering the Reserve. This will give you specific information about the area of the site you are accessing and any additional restrictions that are in place.

We will keep you updated as the season progresses.

Andy Denton
Reserve Manager
Lindisfarne & Newham NNRs

No Access
HEAVENS ABOVE Max Whitby

These are dog days for an astronomer on Holy Island.  As I write in mid-May, the Sun rises before five in the morning and does not set until well past nine in the evening.  In fact the opportunity for astronomy in the summertime here is considerably shorter than that.  We have no real night at all.  Only twilight.

Officially there are three kind of twilight.  Civil Twilight starts the moment the Sun sets and lasts until the Sun is 6 degrees below the horizon. Then with a similar definition it recommences before sunrise, finishing as the Sun breaks the horizon. As there are 360 degrees in a full circle, that means Civil Twilight lasts for 6/360ths of 24 hours or 24 minutes in the evening and 24 minutes again in the early morning.

Cone-Nebula

This was the view looking up from Skylark Observatory on 13th May 2020 showing Max's telescope and the un-dark midnight sky.

Of course, when the Sun is only a little below the horizon the sky is still quite bright. So much light is reflected in the dusk and dawn sky during Civil Twilight that only a handful of the very brightest stars and planets, plus of course the Moon, are visible.  Civil Twilight is essentially useless for astrophotography.

Next comes Nautical Twilight.  This lasts in the evening from the end of Civil Twilight until the Sun is 12 degrees below the horizon, i.e. from 24 until 48 minutes after sunset.  At dawn Nautical Twilight commences 48 minutes before sunrise and finishes with the advent of Civil Twilight 24 minutes later.

During Nautical Twilight the sky is still not fully dark.  If there are not too many pesky clouds, you may be fortunate to witness the magical beautiful deep dark velvety blue of late post-sunset or early pre-dawn sky.  Considerably more stars then become visible.

Although this is still a poor time for astrophotography, it is usually dark enough at least to undertake some vital technical preparations.  It is possible to find focus for your telescope.  It is possible to calibrate your guiding camera, that keeps the system accurately pointed at a target as I explained in a previous column.  And it should be sufficiently dark to attempt the dreaded but essential business of Polar Alignment, which involves pointing the axis of your telescope's mount towards true north with jaw-dropping precision.

For capturing high quality images of deep sky objects, such as galaxies and nebulae, Nautical Twilight is simply not dark enough.  The faint background light still in the sky overwhelms the faint signals from these distant targets.  The inevitable result is a worthless, muddy, washed-out image.

Pleiades
IC1805 the Heart Nebula lies 7,500 light years away from Holy Island.
It is the remnant of an exploded star. This image was photographed using special narrowband filters
that reveal the chemical structure of the nebula.

Better astrophotography opportunities arrive with the third and darkest period of twilight: Astronomical Twilight.  In the evening this lasts from 48 until 72 minutes after sunset. At dawn Astronomical Twilight commences 72 minutes before sunrise and finishes with the advent of Nautical Twilight 24 minutes later.

Astronomical Twilight is not perfect for astrophotography, but it is at least possible to acquire the odd image... particularly using specialist narrowband filters that can reveal the chemistry of some deep space objects.  Take a look at the picture accompanying this article showing the Heart Nebula as an example of what can be photographed, even though the sky may not be fully dark.  Sadly though the number of such targets is limited.

Here on Holy Island even the meagre pickings possible during Astronomical Twilight vanish from 3rd June.  Then the best on offer - until the summer solstice is well past by 9th July - is useless Nautical Twilight.  During the five weeks of high summer there simply is no true night nor even Astronomical Twilight on Holy Island at our far northern latitude.

As I mentioned at the end of last month's column, it is for precisely this reason that I have located one of my telescopes in Chile.  There it is winter when here it is summer.  So the astronomical dog days of summer on Holy Island are the very time to make hay in South America.

With that unfortunate mixed metaphor I will sign-off this month.  When this column returns, I will explain how I remotely control my telescope up the Andes in Chile from Chare Ends on Holy Island.  It is a miracle of our modern age.

FROM THE COMMUNITY OF AIDAN AND HILDA Ray Simpson

How may we respond to overseas pilgrims who had booked to visit the island, or to Northumbrians who value visits to one of our churches and now they can't?

  1. People read more during the lock-down. Although Open Gate is closed to visitors Kayleah still sends out books people order.
  2. More people experience stress or mental health challenges.  So we have put some of our mindfulness retreats on-line. And  I have sent this information out: 'Aidan and Hilda Week Retreat August 31 - September 4 - zoom into new ways'. There will be two sessions per day including talks on Aidan, Bega, Oswald, Ebbe, Cedd & Chad, Hilda, Cuthbert,  Enfleda, Ethilwald and the Lindisfarne Gospels followed by retreat exercises for people to do at home.  These exercises will be shared for 45 minutes at the start of the next zoom session. For those in incompatible  time zones I send the text of any talk they have missed. If you wish to book email me at revd.ray.simpson@btinternet.com
  3. Our island churches suffer more than most because they depend on visitors for income.  So I am encouraging one off donations to them.
  4. An archbishop in USA asked if we had fresh thinking about the post-covid society and how Celtic spirituality can contribute to that. We are circulating thoughts and writings.

Keep safe and see you soon.

Ray

FROM OUR CHURCHES Rev Canon Dr Sarah Hills & Rev Rachel Poolman

Holy Island Churches Together

From Churches Together Dear friends,

As lockdown/Holy Island shutdown continues we are, on the one hand, caught up in a global event, and, on the other, turned inward as a community.  The usual ebb and flow of visitors by which we mark the year is absent, and, if we have been able to get out for a walk, we have only seen handfuls of people.

There is definitely a quieter rhythm to our lives, and for some of us this is deeply challenging, both personally and financially.  There are as many different ways of experiencing this time as there are people on the planet, and perhaps our own reactions are varying from week to week and day to day.   

As human beings we crave certainty; in our 21st century European context we expect someone, somewhere to have answers and to solve problems, but there is no 100% foolproof roadmap for the way ahead for any of us at the moment.

Where does faith come into this ?  As churches, the anchor of public worship has been taken away for the foreseeable future, locked church buildings proclaim the direct opposite of the message of a welcome for everyone that we want to reflect.  Online gatherings and services have sprung up, we are learning new ways of doing what we do, but we too have no answers about how things will look in the coming months.

There is integrity in admitting that there are no simple answers and that we all feel a bit lost just now.   Yes, we can point each other to the gifts of this time, and living here some blessings are very real.  However, there is a balance to be struck so that positivity isn't expressed in a way that somehow devalues the worry and heartache that so many are experiencing.

Christian faith is rooted in the belief that in Jesus Christ, God is with us.  God is with us, not bypassing human emotion or minimising the realities of human experience, but offering a presence beyond words.  The long dark night of the soul has as much a place in Christian life as the peace that passes all understanding - most of us spend a lot of time hovering somewhere between the two.

On the Island our day to day rhythms have all changed, but the tide still comes in and still goes out, the sun rises and the sun sets, the swallows are swooping and the seals are singing.  As we navigate this time day by day, let's recognise the anchor points around us in which we can find some security, and from which we can offer support to others.

Sarah Hills
StMary's Church
01289 389216
incumbentholyisland@gmail.com 

Rachel Poolman
St Cuthbert's Centre (UnitedReformed Church)
01289389254
rachel.poolman@holyisland-stcuthbert.org
 
 

 

 

A Blessing- for this time and every time

Lift your hearts to heaven
and receive the eternal gift of peace

Keep your feet on the ground
and walk with those who need God's love

This day

you are loved by God
You are held by God
You are blessed by God

Now and for evermore

Rachel Poolman


ST. MARY'S NOTICES
Worship Times


Following government guidance on coronavirus, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued advice that public worship is suspended until further notice. I am very sorry as this means that there will be no services in St Mary's Church for the time being to help stem the spread of coronavirus

We will keep you updated as things progress.

Lord, help us to be with one another... even if at a physical distance. Help us to build a kinder world. To reach out. To love and to care. To be sensible and not to panic. Help us, Lord, to hope. Because together we can. Amen.

Revd Dr Sarah Hills