“Dreams on the Hill,” Vasily Polenov, circa 1900, WikiArt.

Part 3: Sister Muriel’s Pilgrimage Revealed

Restless night, I ventured to pray at eastern-
Facing clifftops. At first glimmer of dawn
Father Blàthan appeared, first as corporeal
Man, then as mist rising, of my presence
Unaware. In silence, I lingered within recesses
Of stone cell, watching as he invoked divine,
And in doing so, he became radiant as ocean
Sunlight. Oddly, I felt comforted by such
Presence, yet, upon clifftop domain of sea and
Stone realization struck: I was alone, marooned
Until boatmen returned, sails and oars, wave
Journey to mainland Ireland yet weeks away.

Thus my plight upon Skellig Mhór, within
Cell I remained, corner hiding, until hearing
Morning bells, no food, water since evening
Prayers, single candle given, only light and
Warmth. Body and soul hungering, I entered
Oratory, my eyes fixed upon stone floor, gaze
Not not lifting to behold man who was not
Mortal, mind racing as to what to do or say,
Except for breaking honeyed bread, eating
Single egg. Lo! I longed for fields, flowered
Pastures green, running waters of Irish hills
And plains, even commingling with Druids.

“What troubles you child?” Father asked.
Then I knew he knew, trespassed I had
Upon his sacred time and prayers. “Father,
Yes, I watched you pray, and when doing so,
Mist transformed. He responded not, except
To offer breakfast, cup of cistern water. To
North-facing cliffs he escorted me, “Beyond
This place, your pilgrimage awaits.” Deep
Breath he took, long sighed. Living man he
Seemed. “Upon these heights, desolate and
Forlorn, my sight beyond time, sea horizons
Reveals danger, threats to Irish lands.

“Went into Hill Country,” Vasily Polenov, 1894, WikiArt.

Hearing this, I turned to him, caring not if
Mortal or divine. “How so? We are northern
Limit of Christ’s church.” “Sister, you are in
Many ways outside the church, stone walls
And doctrine, dangers descend to Irish Isles
By Norse warriors, plunderers of meager
Wealth, silver coins and crosses, killing
Monks and priests. To Viking fiords and
Headlands you will venture, blesséd cross,
Briar-wood staff given. Thus, your holy
Pilgrimage, bringing God’s word to Northern
Tribes, to mythical reaches of Ultima Thule.”

In this poem, enigmatic Father Blàtham acknowledges Sister Muriel is “in many
ways outside the church, stone walls and doctrine.” As history reveals, Norse
descended on British Isles, specially Ireland, plundering wealth that enabled them
to sea-explore and expand to lands west and north, coinciding with Sister Muriel’s
mythical Ultima Thule. Can Father Blàthan influence course of Viking history?

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