Father William

 

"You are old, father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head
Do you think, at your age, it is right?”
First verse of Lewis Carroll’s poem.
 
Sixty-six year old Father William stepped into my house yesterday. He aired his plan to walk and sail from Iona to Lindisfarne next year. He will dedicate this pilgrimage to two vital objects. The first is to find how to fulfil his God-given callings after he retires as a parish priest. The second is to find how the fractious British Isles can be bound together in the healing fellowship of Christ. In particular he will meditate on the two people he thinks should become the co-patron saints of the British Isles: Aidan and Margaret.
 
The peoples in the British Isles and Ireland have hurt each other much, and the hurts need to be healed; but many have given much and this alternative narrative needs to become the narrative of our peoples today. For example,  Aidan was the Irish Scot who loved the English and was loved by them. Margaret was the English Princess who became Scotland’s Queen. She loved Scots greatly and they loved her.
 
Riots in Belfast, anti-English sentiment in Scotland, Wales and Cornwall, lack of identity among the young and newcomers from many ethnic backgrounds – yes. But as we make known common sources of hope and healing and model these in our lives – who can tell what renaissance awaits us?
 
Posted at 01:30am on 25th January 2013
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