David Adam R.i.p.

This week I spent a morning on Holy Island with Rev. Linda Wards who had travelled all the way from New Zealand to visit Holy Island in the depths of winter when it is mostly closed down. She stayed at Robert and Jutta's garden annexe The Sanctuary. She had emailed me: 'I am an Anglican priest in a non-stipended role in a parish in the Wellington Diocese, New Zealand. My husband Rev. Ross Wards met you, and greatly appreciated doing so, some years back when in Britain. He completed his doctorate in Celtic studies and opened a world to me with his interest. He died about 4 months ago now after about 6 years of dealing with cancer. The way of the Celts has become very intertwined in my way, walk and ministry and I have areas of responsibility in prayer, pastoral care and spiritual direction in a parish.' We explored how she can develop Celtic retreats and connect with our international community. She had hoped also to meet David Adam whose writings had inspired sher and her husband..

A few days later I was informed that David Adam had died. I owe this ex coal miner, who became a brilliantly succinct writer, so much. When the church recognised I was called to be a 'monk in the market-place' I resolved I would live on Lindisfarne, but only if its vicar invited me.  David Adam told me he had dreamed of starting an S.A.S. (Britain's Special Air Service, whose motto is Who Dares Wins, helped Britain win World War 11, about whose pilots Churchill said 'Never in the history of mankind have so many owed so much to so few').  David's SAS was a St. Aidan Society.  So he welcomed a Community of Aidan and Hilda presence on the island and gave us some advice.

When donors enabled us to rent and then buy the Guest House on the cross-roads as a retreat house, we named it after the title of one of his books - The Open Gate. In this book he points out that in Celtic folk-lore the worst fate that can befall anyone is to be shut into a field with a locked gate. He writes:   ‘The open gate is the call to explore new areas of yourself and the world around you.  It is a challenge to come and discover that the world and ourselves are filled with mystery and with the glory of God.... We should look upon the open gate as a way to extend ourselves and our vision. ‘ It was felt that both church people and non-religious seekers could feel at home here and be themselves and yet be drawn into something deeper.

He donated the original picture which formed the cover of his book to the house. If anyone knows its whereabouts please let us know.

David wrote an inspiring article on A Vision for Mission on Holy Island which was printed in the second issue of our magazine.  This can be downloaded from this web site: .http://www.raysimpson.org/downloads/davidadam:myvisionfor holyisland. Here is an extract: 


 I see the church on Lindisfarne as being Celtic in its view of a very present God...So I want the church to be seen as a TOUCHING PLACE, where heaven and earth meet; a truly incarnational church. To encourage folk to see that God is here – and with them. 


 It means being a TEACHING PLACE, where schools, groups, pilgrims and tourists can all come and have some input. It will be also a place for retreats, spiritual renewal, courses and day experiences.... I would like to see a TRYSTING PLACE, where people seek to commit themselves to God and His mission. Where they took part in some form of dedication and accept a simple Rule of Life. All this is to express that God is among us and to be met.




 We need to be a place that proclaims the resurrection and ascension – and more – the presence of the Risen Lord. Though God is in our midst, we need to let people also experience the God beyond. We seek to be an EXTENDING PLACE, to show that our faith extends our life and our horizons rather than restricts them. To be a place that encourages people to look beyond, a place of prophecy and vision. We need to be an ELEVATING PLACE that is able to uphold those that are down... Many people coming looking for help, attention, a listening ear, all wanting uplifting...The liturgy needs to speak instantly to the visitor who does not come to church very often – here the use of Celtic style prayers can be of great use.


We need to see Christ in other and to be Christ to others. We need to be a place where people are drawn to the very sanctity of the place




 In the style of the early Celtic church, we need to be a SENDING CHURCH, encouraging people to share their faith. Training people to go out to proclaim the Good News. Of such people and others we need to be a SUPPORTING CHURCH meeting their needs and helping them to find answers to the questions they ask. Finally we need to be a STRENGTHENING CHURCH through the power of the Spirit. A place where people can come for refreshment and renewal.


 Because we are talking of the Church and not a single denomination. I would like to see this being achieved ecumenically and not just by a single group (as if that were possible). Such a vision must also include Marygate House and its work with courses and retreats. It must look at any other groups that seek to be linked to the Island and see where we can work together. Work done by St. Cuthbert’s URC, the St. Vincent de Paul Camp, the Community of Aidan and Hilda and the Northumbria Community ** have to all be seen as part of the Island and the Church at large.'



Holy Island has ups and downs, and some don't want it to be a holy island. David thought it should be a resource hub for a wide hinterland. He told me in 2019 that he was disappointed that the wider church had not put flesh onto this vision. At Christmas, I felt a divine nudge to write to him  that he could be encouraged, because straws in the wind indicated that God was at work and fresh possibilities are opening up  on the island.








Posted at 09:52am on 30th January 2020
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