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EAT, WRITE, DIGEST: A Visit to Holy Island

One of the places that has stayed with me since my recent visit to the U.K. is the Holy Island of Lindisfarne or, simply, Holy Island. It is a special place for my friend Oonah and it is because of her that I visited Holy Island. I wanted to see what it was about this place that drew her, soothed her, and called her to return again and again.

Holy Island is in the far north of England, almost to Scotland. The road to the island is cut off by the North Sea twice a day, so visitors have to check the tide tables as they make their travel plans.

I noticed as we drove onto the island that there were towers partway across. They were there to allow those who managed to get caught in the incoming tide to abandon their vehicles and sit in the hut atop the tower until the tide went back out. I wondered how many people actually had to do such a thing and how someone could get caught like that. It happens, I am told, more often that one might think.

Once on the island, we went to a place called Castle View, where Oonah’s friend Dorothy lives and welcomes occasional guests. Dorothy only has friends stay at Castle View these days; she is not a young woman. But the place is lovely as its rooms face toward fields filled with sheep, while Lindisfarne Castle sits regally in the background.

The lambs that kicked up their heels utterly enchanted me.

There was much to see on this small island with a population of less than 200. There was the castle, of course, as well as Lindisfarne Priory. St. Cuthbert and Viking raids loom large in the history of the place. But Holy Island today is not just a place to soak up history. It is a place to listen to the sea, seals, lambs, birds, wind. It is a place to be away from daily business (unless your business is on the island) and reconnect with the possibility of the sacred or, if you’re me, inhale fresh air and appreciate a quieter existence.

Holy Island is a place to let go of whatever troubles you.

My husband and I both enjoyed walking around the island, going at a slower pace, and listening to unfamiliar but soothing sounds that excluded the normal city sounds we are used to.

We slept very well at Holy Island. Like Oonah, we would choose to return to this place again and again if it were just a little easier for us to get there.

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