Leave me alone
with God as much as may be,
as the tide draws the waters close in upon the shore,
make me an island, set apart, alone with You, God,
holy to You.
Then, with the turning of the tide,
prepare me to carry your presence to the busy world,
beyond the world that rushes in on me,
until the waters return and enfold me
back to you.
Saint Aidan (d.651),
In this touching prayer, a monk from Iona, Saint Aidan, sees himself like an island, washed by the incoming tide and renewed for his web-tide vocation: the call to evangelise the North East of England. Aidan became Abbot and Bishop of Lindisfarne and the historian, the Venerable Bede (673-735), praised him for his love of prayer, study, peace, purity and humility, as well as his care for the sick and the poor. He famously liberated and educated twelve Anglo-Saxon slave-boys to become Church leaders. I find him a moving illustration of God's call to be renewed daily by the Holy Spirit for new opportunities. Or, as Gregory of Nyssa (330-395) put it: 'From beginning, to a new beginning, to beginnings that have no end.'