On New Year’s Eve I spent a lovely afternoon with my husband doing a pilgrimage/prayer walk around Lindisfarne, off the Northumberland Coast. It was a beautiful day with lots of blue sky and sunshine, and warmth with it too! The fine weather had brought the hoards out too, all blowing away the cobwebs and burning the calories of Christmas indulgence. Despite the crowds the beauty and peace of the place still prevailed.
For me, Lindisfarne, or Holy Island as it is sometimes called, is one of those special places where it’s strangely easy to step out of the hustle and bustle of day to day life, to ponder and pray. Some refer to it as a ‘thin place’ between heaven and earth. I can certainly see why. It’s a place where I’ve heard God’s call and affirmation to start and continue my coaching journey.
Our walk took us to the sand dunes and quarry prompting a time to reflect on the shifting sands and firm foundations of life. Then on to Emmanuel Head with its bright white pyramidal beacon. I wonder how many seafarers have appreciated its presence in dark nights and storms. How many of us have appreciated ‘God with us’ in life’s storms when the winds rage and the waves threaten our existence?
Our last stop of the day was at the pebble beach by the lime kilns. The practice on that beach is to build a cairn. Many toppling towers can be seen, defiant against the wind and waves. Others have succumbed to the elements, lying as prostrated heaps of pebbles dotted along the beach. As the sun sank ever deeper in the sky we set about building our cairn to mark the end of one year and the beginning of the next. With each stone added to our cairn we remembered either times of joy or struggle, happiness or pain, releasing in surrender and gratitude each to God. Our hopes and prayers for the year ahead were added to our tower as we said the Lords Prayer together.
It was at this point that we noticed how the setting sun was catching our humble tower of stones.The stones that minutes before had represented our struggles, trials, joys and highlights were now bathed in a golden light. The good and the bad were now alike!
This spoke to me of how when we surrender the difficult or painful things to God he is able to transform them and build something beautiful in our lives through them. The hard things become just as meaningful as the good things, giving strength and shape to our lives.
We left our cairn and walked into the year ahead knowing that God will continue his transforming work in our lives; bringing forth gold from the difficulties and dross that life is sometimes like.
‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven… Amen’.