By the time we had finished saying the office the rain had stopped, a real miracle! As we walked the Pilgrims path the light became brighter and the sky had silvery streaks in it. Some of the photos from that time look as through they were black and white. There were interesting reflections in the pools of sea water - both of the cloud and of the other walkers, Karen's bright red waterproof helps prove that they were actually colour photos!
We walked along the traditional route of pilgrims. There was firm sand and squelchy mud as well as sea water to walk over and through. The mud was very slippy and there was danger of falling. At points you sunk into the mud, well above your ankles until reaching a firm footing underneath. It was quite black and smelly under the surface felt a bit like clay slip, oozing up between your toes.
Aidan and his monks didn't go for an easy option living on a tidal island. It took about an hour and a half to walk over. It's hard to imagine having to do that before starting the journey to wherever they were going, or returning home to the monastery after days away only to have that slow arduous walk to face.
In walking the Pilgrims path you had to concentrate on the journey rather than the arrival. Important to look ahead occasionally to see where you were going and that you were sticking to the route but most of the time concentration was on where you were and what was underfoot. This became really crucial when your feet began to feel so cold and then numb so you couldn't feel them - you had to watch where you were putting them and think about the journey.
Sir Walter Scott wrote...
The tide did now its flood-mark gain,
And girdled in the Saint's domain:
For, with the flow and ebb its style
Varies from continent to isle;
Dry shod o'er sands, twice every day,
The pilgrims to the shrine find way;
Twice every day, the waves efface
Of staves and sandall'd feet the trace.
The sense of ebb and flow, of withdrawl and engagement is reflected in this prayer attributed to Aidan
Leave me alone with God as much as may be.
As the tide draws the waters close in upon the shore,
Make me an island, set apart,
alone with you, God, holy to you.
Then with the turning of the tide
prepare me to carry your presence to the busy world beyond,
the world that rushes in on me
till the waters come again and fold me back to you.