“Visitors from over the Sea,” Nicholas Roerich, 1901, WikiArt.

Part 9: Norse Religious Turning Point

Swords-in-hand, footsteps from sea to
Shore, Vikings Iceland landed. From Sheep
Isles they strove, farthest bound Norway.
As two cloaked figures, monks appearing,
Father Blathan and I, Sister Muriel, greeted
Hardy seafarers, families and livestock,
Austere island beauty, earth trembling,
Smoke billowing, molten rock flowing from
Earth’s bowels, waterfalls, seas congealing,
Mythical Ultima Thule headlands, surreal
As imagined, now Norse-settled, cottage
Building, families, farmsteads raising.

“So much earth and time has revealed,” said
I, marveling as history unfolded. “More we
Shall witness,” Father advised. “Christianity
And paganism at crossroads meeting and
Departing, by heartfelt contemplation and
Prayer, we will witness at their althing. Lo!
Meeting of tribes, chieftains, warriors noble
Each, preventing blood-strife over rival
Religions, looked to Thorgeir, himself pagan
Priest. “Why him, Father?” I asked. “Why not
Monk or bishop?” “For God to help a people,
They must change what’s in their heart.”

“Christ Pantocrator,” Saint Catherine’s Monastery, circa 6th century, Wikipedia.

As each chieftain voiced concerns, against
Or for Christianity, Thorgeir listened to
Light burning within his heart, admixture
Pagan-divine, reaching heavenly heights,
He took to feet, asked aloud, “Who is Christ?”
Again he repeated, “Who is Christ?” Those
Present searched for answers. “This day
I accept Christ as my savior, I am one with
Him on seas, with family, and in battle.”
Yes, I remembered Father asking me
Same, how I had struggled for answers,
This religious turning point observed.

“For these moments, I was sent to earth,”
Father whispered. “See Christ’s kingdom
Expand into northlands, years collapsing
And expanding, observing warp and weft
Of history. We followed Thorgeir to roaring
Goðafoss waterfall, destiny ever sea-flowing.
He cast pagan idol into downward torrents,
Norse baptism and rebirth. In turn, we
Threw something, relic or water-smoothed
Stone, showing as Thorgeir, we, too, were
One with Christ, and in Viking’s new-found
Faith, Christ was one with us this day.

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

My pilgrimage complete, by less arduous
Sea-journey, Father Blathan and I returned
To blesséd Ireland and to isle Skellig Mhór.
There, I did not stay, 600 hundreds steps
Above ocean, familiar duties, morning
Prayers, cliff-collecting eggs, all things fond
And welcome-remembered. Life took another
Course, in faith I followed it like ocean breeze.
No, I did not ride again upon sea waves, but
Found solace in waving fields of wheat. Over
Years, I asked myself: Who is Christ and his
Servant, Father Blàthan?” In my heart, I know.

This is concludes this series of “Sister Muriel” poems. For now, she has returned
Ireland of 5th or 6th century. For more on “Christianization of Iceland” see this link:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianization_of_Iceland

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