Sunday, 24 February 2019

Tune My Spirit To The Music Of Heaven

Eleven summers ago, we rode the Honda into Bantry on a windy August morning, and admired the statue of St Brendan The Explorer. [made 50 years ago by husband and wife Ian and Imogen Stuart] According to the popular myth, Brendan and his monks set out to find the Island of Paradise somewhere around 500 AD . They endured a forty-day fast then set out in a westerly direction. During their harrowing Atlantic journey, the monks encounter unusual creatures, briefly settle on a whale’s back after mistakenly identifying it for an island, meet Judas marooned on a rock, and eventually reach Paradise, before returning home. The Island of Paradise, or St. Brendan’s Island, as it became known, was treated as a legitimate location, and appeared on most maps and globes, including Behaim’s 1492 globe. According to Columbus’s son, Ferdinand, his father wholeheartedly believed in it. Until the late 18th-century, sightings of Brendan’s mythical island were reported, although some have since speculated that Brendan and his crew had actually ventured as far as the Americas. In the spring of 1976, British explorer, Tim Severin, accompanied by a small crew of four, successfully sailed 4,500 miles from Ireland to Newfoundland in a handcrafted currach built using the 6th-century standards as Brendan’s.
While the exact geographic location of Brendan’s paradise is still a matter of speculation,  we mustn't overlook the impact that he had on the central figures in the age of exploration, who looked with wonder upon both his voyage and his Christian fervour . Unfortunately for the indigenous population of the Americas, the desire of Columbus and other European explorers to spread Christian principles to these perceived "godless lands"  lacked the innocence and religious zeal of the Munster monk. Instead, they were driven by greed and contempt rather than religious longing.
I remembered our Irish holiday, and St Brendan, recently, when my good friend Ali Boulton used his prayer as part of our morning worship at the SCBA Conference. I don't know if this really is 1500 years old - but the words still have relevance today

1 comment:

  1. We're for Cork soon for a climbing competition. I'll pack these prayer words to muse over.


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