When I was a lad, between the ages of around 8 to around 14, I used to be dragged across the Scottish border into Northumberland to go on holiday. Might seem nothing to you, nor even to me, but back in those days it was MILES AWAY! We couldn’t afford the petrol to go further! And for my mother, who isn’t a traveller at all, it was still too far. Year after year after year. Somehow we expected it to be ‘warm down there’ and yet its probably further north than where we lived on the West Coast of Ayrshire.
There is one story that we always tell of our holidays there. We had gone to Lindisfarne…Holy Island, just the once! (We didn’t stray far from the Haggerston Castle Holiday Park). We had parked in the car park and walked towards the centre of the village, and taking the path down past the pub towards the boatsheds, we entered a field (pictured) full of geese. We walked along the little path for a while until one of the geese started for us. It chased us all the way back up the field and over the gate as far as we could go. Terrified!
Thats our story of being chased by a Wild Goose on Lindisfarne. My mother still tells it.
In those younger days my life was difficult, I don’t want to labour that point, but things weren’t happy. Quite apart from the Wild Goose, into my early teenager years I was aware God was chasing me in a real way. From a completely non-Christian family, at 13 I received a Gideon’s Bible from school and whilst others threw theirs away, I kept mine. And I remember reading the Sermon on the Mount in my first or second year in High School and after reading a little passage each night, then saying ‘God help me.’ I had no idea how that crying out to God would begin to change things. Surely enough, he started placing people in my life who would lead the way to the Cross.
Now, here I am 20 years later more or less chasing the Wild Goose TO Lindisfarne…in pursuit of the Spirit. I go up there when I can. I feel the roots of the place, the celtic cradle of Christianity in the north, has much to give me and I wonder if in some sort of way, the prayers of the saints of that place linger on through the years. Or did some modern saint watch the whole episode and pray a prophetic prayer?
I don’t know. However, as you’ll be realising by now, the spirituality of Lindisfarne and the Northumbria Community, of which I’m gradually becoming more a part of (looking to be a ‘novice’ with them from August), is feeding my soul this season and it feels like coming home.
What kind of God are you pursuing? Rather than being a tame deity, fenced into a field, he is wild. He can’t be boxed up in a church, movement or denomination. His Spirit blows where it pleases, and from where he comes, we don’t always know. This one thing I do know is that he invites us into the pursuit and it is in the pursuit of God that God finds us and turns our chase into a dance.