“Seated Christ,” Vasily Polenov, 1887, WikiArt.

Part 2: Columba Island Greeted

Harrying sea, misty line horizon discerned,
Barren windswept isle, protection of sandy
Beaches. Swords and shields ready, we saw
No one. What gods cherished this sea-lost
Isle-land? What sea-roving people settled
Grassy plains? Norse warriors asked, “Brithe,
What killed them and all their kin?” Fear firth-
Speaking evil spells, wind voices, brought us
Defenseless against Picts, Celts, brutal blood-
Letting clans, painted faces, descending hoards,
Killed all invaders, their bones grass-scattered.

Alas! Sand-beach footprints found, walking
Staff mark with each step, older man presumed,
Leading us to island heights, ambush weary,
Dozen hardest men, women, equal battle-
Warriors, our weapons drawn for mayhap.
Sandal-wearing hooded figure dunes-appeared,
Staff instead of stout-pole spear. “Hold peace,
Weapons. I am fiord voices, Brithe, church dove,
Answer to prayers.” “How may I address you,
Father?” I asked. Dark hood removed, face
Radiant revealed, name given, “Columba.”

“Father, to whom should we show greatest
Honour, Odin or Christ? When rituals are
Admixed, are both profaned?” Columba’s
Response to my double question, “Follow
Me.” We left not our longboat abandoned,
Three Norsemen remained, shelter taken
Therein, two accompanied me in cold-
Blowing gale, hard pressed against wind-
Stinging sands. Yet, of elder age, Columba
Struggled not against wind or cold, my two
Companions stating, “Old man is not of
This island or of this world.”

“Beached Boat,” Maxine Maufra, 1882, WikiArt.

Broad stone cairn we approached, on hands,
Knees crawled through narrow passageway,
Central chamber opening. “You are correct,”
Columba confirmed. “Of this world, I am not,
Dozen decades past, born-buried, now guiding
Christian spirit.” Tomb he explained, primitive
Iron-hammering peoples, worshiped ancient
Gods, afterlife believed, honoured so their dead.
What message for differing religions? Peace,
Tolerance, acceptance, combining like rituals,
Turning none away, by miracles Picts, Celts
Converted to island versions of Christianity.

For more on historical Saint Columba, see this link.
See this link Neolithic Quoyness chambered cairn, these
characters visited. Thanks for reading.

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