Part 1: Sister Muriel meets Father Blàthan
Journey to southeast reaches of Ireland,
Prayer and introspection, more than lone
Pilgrimage, I felt transformation and fear
Of where my calling leads. Trekking along
Rocky coastline, fisher families shared dark
Concerns of enigmatic Arctic lands, realm
Fear-avoided, Ultima Thule, seawater oft
Gelling, no firm-land, murky mixture of
Curdling cold: ice, sea, and north winds.
Thoughts heart-chilling, I approached by
oar-rowing boat, high-sloped isle of Skellig
Mhór, meeting Father Blàthan.
Confronted by rising terrace of hand-laid
Steps of stone, Father Blàthan, lone hermit,
At first landing met. “Welcome, Sister Muriel.
Each step is a prayer,” he advised, winding
Course to stone monastic cells, single oratory,
Hundreds of feet overlooking cloud-swept
Ocean waves. Beehive-appearing cell I was
Given, pallet on body-length sleeping slab,
In grand silence, I remained until Father
Granted permission to approach, offerings
Given, necessities of hermetic life: candles,
Cheese, honey, bread, all farmer’s gifts.
Simple meal we shared: fish, cliff-collected
Eggs, cistern rain water, his vision for self-
Sufficient monastic community. Tall-thin man,
We surveyed higher peaks, meditation and
Expanding life on otherwise uninhabited isle.
Deeper conversation in oratory began, balding,
Full beard, dark eyes, Father Blàthan asked,
“Sister, who is Christ?” In hesitation, answers
Searched, scripture of Luke I remembered: “He
Said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’
“Christ is more message than icons, he is light
Upon the world.” In pensive silence we sat.
Same question Father asked again. Failings
I felt as he stared into my heart. Scripture
I had memorized, yet rebuked I was into
Silence as Christ becalmed wind and sea.
“My savior and Son of God,” I whispered.
In pained moments, I realized purpose of
Meditation, Skellig Mhór. “Prophet, suffering
Servant, messiah, all these things,” I replied.
With single nod, Father ended our discussion,
“Pray about this, tomorrow we talk again.”
In silence, I returned to my cell for night,
Vexed by what I did not know.
Pilgrimage to northern isles, another Sister Muriel series begins. Since classical times, Ultima Thule was foreboding Arctic realm beyond all known land, more imagined than realized. See this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thule
For more on Skellig Mhór or historical Skellig Michael monastery see this link:
Does Skellig Michael seem familiar?