Pilgrimage at Home – 4

Michael HutchinsonPilgrimage

An Island Place

In the days of the plague, Boisil and Cuthbert both became ill. Although Cuthbert made a good recovery, from that time onwards he had inner pains that never left him. Boisil was glad to see his friend recover, though he knew that he also had caught the plague and was not far from death. He said to Cuthbert: “We must use this time, as long as I can think and speak, to teach you.”

Cuthbert was deeply moved. To cover his great sorrow, he asked, “What is best for us to read, which we can finish in a week?”

With renewed vigour, Boisil replied, “John’s Gospel.” As they read and spoke and prayed together, Boisil suggested to Cuthbert that he might one day be a bishop. This prospect did not thrill Cuthbert, who would have preferred to be a hermit. He longed to spend his days in prayer, alone with God. Yet who can penetrate the mysterious will of God?

Following the death of Boisil, Cuthbert became the prior at Melrose. The monastery benefitted from his wisdom of living a life under the Rule of Columba. He taught through his example and attitude more than through his words. He ministered to those who had suffered the plague, and cared always for the less fortunate, the poor and the slaves. He showed through words and action that prayer was never regarding manipulating God, but rather co-operating with God’s love and power.

Cuthbert frequently visited neighbouring villages, proclaiming the power and love of God for all people. He went to places others did not go, even to places where others were afraid to go, into areas where poverty and ignorance made people seem unattractive. Cuthbert knew that these too were the children of God, and his gentle ways and example of life won over the hill people. Yet within Cuthbert was the burning desire for solitude, to retreat into the deep, still, quiet place and to be alone with God.

Opening Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, 
Son of God,
Have mercy on me,
A sinner.

Closing Prayer

God, be with teachers around the world, especially those working in places that experience extreme poverty, conflict, or other challenges. Give them wisdom on how to interact with their students, and provide them with joy for the great work they do. Let them feel support and love from community members. We also pray for more people to be inspired to teach worldwide — make their calling clear, guiding them along your path. Amen.