“Old Man’s Head,” Jan Metejko, WikiArt.

Part 3: Wisdom of Columba (Last)

Within confines of cairn tomb we huddled,
Rock-stacked walls storm-protecting, niches
Bone, grave gifts-containing. “Father what
Wisdom do you offer of this Sandey Island
Voyage?” I, Brithe asked Columba, his soul-
Light illuminating vaulted chamber heights.
“Faith in God is Norse trust in stout longboats,
Navigating cresting seas, Christ as helmsman,
Able crew, disciples, safe-guiding passage to
Home fiords. Ages past, other ships, peoples,
Sailed heaving seas, faith in gods, rituals
Observed, following tides, their beliefs.”

Columba’s words we understood, Norse, Picts,
Celts, accepting Christianity, until Columba’s
Light darkened, entombed in stone, hellish
Place, captured live within cairn-grave, death
Worse than freeze-drowning. Alas! Cairn
Entrance light discerned, we three scrambled
Out, reborn. To longboat we strove, Norse
Warriors awaiting. “Old priest just left us,”
Stated Norsemen boat protecting. “By his
Hymns, wind-waves calmed, singing edge of
Surf-lapping sand. “What wisdom?” I asked.

“Healing pools, oak-tree holiness, mistletoe
Columba spoke, Druids, sacred streams. Soul
Knows not death, only afterlife.” Longboat
Wrested from shore, from Sandey Isle sailed,
“What of Norse?” I asked. Longboats are vessels
Plowing deepest seas.  Norsemen, Picts, all
Peoples are soul-vessels in search of divinity,
Many ages, numerous faces, hymns of Christ
Columba sang, so inspired, disciples of faith
He sought, offering charity, hope, steerboard
Guiding, pilgrims on spiritual journey.

“Ingolf” by P. Raadsig, 1850, Viðeyjarstofa in Viðey, Reykjavik.

Dazzling waves we sailed, familiar headlands
Sighted, hymns of Columba sang, heaving
Oars to forested homestead, we honoured
Odin and Christ, mighty mountain, broad-
Flowing river, both sovereign in our life.
Hammer and cross, what wisdom-words
Have I for chieftain, awaiting clans? Be
Confident in faith, worship as rituals
Relate, as Old Bearded One thunder-wills,
Prince of Peace teaches, fear not faith-
Struggles, for they are with us, as sky
And sea, wind, high-hoisted sails.

For more on the Norse transition to Christianity, see this link.
What significance (if any) is Columba’s conversation in ancient
tomb? Thanks for reading.

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