SITEZINE: HOLY ISLAND'S E-MAIL MAGAZINE 1st February 2017
  • A bit from me...
  • From the team at SkyImage
  • Crossman Hall
  • Lindisfarne Castle
  • Island memories revived of visits long ago
  • Natural England Lindisfarne NNR
  • Northumberland Business Awards
  • Peregrini Lindisfarne landscape partnership
  • From the Open Gate
  • News from Ford & Etal
  • From our United Reformed Church minister
  • From the Vicarage
  • Parish Diary
  • St Cuthbert's Centre Diary
  • Pause for thought

Lindisfarne Castle - refurb!

A BIT FROM ME Geoff Porter

Dear *|MMERGE3|* ,

A belated Happy New Year and welcome to our first newsletter of 2017!

The steady, low-frequency throb of diesel engines continues to pervade the village for those visiting the island providing emergency power whilst the island's power cable is repaired.

At the moment visitors are being greeted by clear skies and mild temperatures - quite a contrast with the south of the country.... And having made the journey to get here, the state of the causeway will have come as quite a shock. I crossed to the mainland the other day only to discover that the only visible sign of the road were the edge markers. Surface, centre line and other road markings were completely obscured by the sand deposited by the sluggishly ebbing tide. Do be wary of vehicle safety and suspension when travelling over the hard-packed pocketed sand. And, of course, beneath the salt water puddles can be those ever-present British phenomena, potholes.

Last October contractors arrived with a digger to begin causeway improvements. An island power cable failure ensued. They have now resumed work. But I have yet to meet a resident who has been consulted on or seen a work schedule. So no one knows when they plan to finish or how 'finishing' will be recognised!

Following their Christmas break our writers have quite an assortment of topics for you this month. In particular, we very much welcome Rachel back into the fold and thank Kate for her topical 'pause for thought'.

Popular in many parts of the world, several of us here have developed an interest in unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). I am delighted to report that a professional operator at 'SkyImage' has been in touch and been persuaded to write briefly about his work. He includes a couple of fabulous, high-definition, aerial photographs. And as a bonus there is a link to his Holy Island archive - Wow!

On 'Ash Wednesday' we will be greeting you with our March issue. By then 'Scottish Power' should have Holy Island running on mains electricity again and 'Northumberland County Council' will have restored the causeway. But in the meantime do be extra-cautious!

God Bless - Geoff Porter

THE LOSS OF A FRIEND

It is with a heavy heart that I annnouce the death of a dear friend, Arthur Shell. The funeral will be held at the Parish Church at 12pm on Saturday 4th February. Arthur leaves wife Joyce and two wonderful sons.

If you are visiting the island at this time you will understand that local traffic disruption is likely and whilst the service is in progress the church and churchyard will be closed to visitors.

FROM THE TEAM AT SKYIMAGE Ross Breen

We are a local based company and we specialise in photography & cinematography services. We operate UAS (unmanned aerial systems) or more commonly referred to as 'drones'. We are professionally qualified, fully licensed and insured to operate commercially and adhere to the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) regulations. We have been operating for over 3 years now and have a vast amount of skill and experience within our team. 

'Holy Island Village'

We were asked to shoot Holy Island, Lindisfarne as part of our clients brief to help market and attract more potential visitors to the area and we loved every single minute of it. It is such a beautiful place whilst visiting by foot on the ground but seeing it from an aerial perspective just intensifies its beauty. We are so lucky to have such wonderful places like this on our doorstep and I know a lot of us (myself included) at times have taken it for granted. It is times like this that we truly step back and just admire and appreciate the breathtaking scenery that surrounds us. Please take a look at our sneak preview of the production by using www.vimeo.com/196465320.

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne
 ' Causeway-Closed! '

If a picture is worth a thousand words (and I agree) then a video must be worth a million!

From the team at Skyimage
skyimage.ross@gmail.com
www.skyimage.co.uk

CROSSMAN HALL David O'Connor

I hope you all had a memorable Christmas and New Year. I did, and my celebration began a day before Christmas when I received word from our major grant provider, the Big Lottery Fund that we could use part of our grant underspend to pay for the installation of the heart and soul of the new hall, the kitchen.

The good news quickly spread around the town. People were delighted. A wonderful community Christmas surprise.

We have contacted the Food Standards Agency and NCC's Public Protection Commercial Team and received advice and guidance on standards set by the relevant Code(s) of Practice. Their help will ensure that our kitchen will comply with current Regulation and we expect the Kitchen will, after approval, be installed and operational by March.

Over the Holiday period children and adults were entertained in the Hall; First by a brilliant performance of The Journey of the Magi by the Springs Dance Company. Then later in December Pipes & Fiddles, principles Andy & Margaret Watchorn, created an evening of great harmony playing several sets from rich heritage of Northumberland and Borders folk music playing to a very receptive audience of 40+.

As yet there is no news reference granting the Legal Easement to cross the Winery car park with the new rainwater connection to the main drain.

Early in January our IT Consultant Michael Vrieling van Tuijl, (Mikey) successfully completed installing Broadband and Wi-Fi in the Hall. Well done Michael, it works perfectly. The Wi-Fi, I'm told, is a bonus for those who use the mini-fitness centre, where they can walk and jog in time to music.

If you want to use the equipment collect the hall keys from Anna or Sue at the Oasis.

As I write several of the younger members of the community are drawing up plans to set up a small user group. 
Finally, as we drift into the New Year, we must thank Simon Bevan for guiding the finances through a very busy period and welcome Chris Douglas as Treasurer/Trustee.

Please don't forget; if you are clearing out old books and games etcetera. The Oasis Café Hall sales table always welcomes fund raising sales donations. The money raised by these sales contribute to Our annual running costs.

David
doconna@hotmail.com

LINDISFARNE CASTLE Nick Lewis

Things have progressed quickly up at the Castle since we last spoke, as those of you on the Island will no doubt have seen. Both inside and out work has been hastened by the reasonable weather - apart from the recent storms and a blustery week before Christmas - which in particular has meant that the bulk of the Phase 1 scaffolding has been erected without too much delay.

Given our location the weather has an indirect impact even on the internal works. The contractors have just completed the protection works inside the Castle which has seen the historic floors, doorways, fireplaces, stone work and the half a dozen remain bits of furniture clad in thick layers of carpet underlay and plywood. The plywood particularly comes in large sheets and is tricky to get up to the Castle in strong winds! Bespoke designs to protect the Castle's uneven and in some cases curved staircases are a work of art in themselves and have been documented and photographed by conservators as good examples of best practice to be adopted elsewhere.

Work to remove cementitious mortar has been carried out in the Ship Room and Dining Room and has moved on to the Long Gallery, while impervious paints have been being stripped from the Entrance Hall and Kitchen. On the Upper Battery, archaeological works have been undertaken ahead of a new drain being installed below the surface. In the course of this work what looked like an old fire step was uncovered at the base of the parapet wall, along with the natural rock of Beblowe Crag only centimetres below the flagstones. We also found remains of a keel boat which had been used in the masonry fill below the Battery's viewing plinth (now removed) along with a George VI coin from 1937 - confusing me as I reckon that plinth was built between 1920 - 1932.  

' The Holy Island of Lindisfarne [ Causeway-Closed!!] '

Outside the scaffolders have constructed a tower on the eastern elevation which will soon become the only means of access to the building, allowing the main door to be locked up and the historic fabric in the staircase safe from accidental knocks. This also has an electronic hoist which will allow for easier movement of materials in and out of the building. Another more powerful hoist will be part of the massive southern buttress which is gradually climbing the southern elevation as I type and in the next couple of weeks, a similar buttress will appear on the northern side of the Castle. This buttress will eventually span the road to the north of the Castle so the right of way has had to be temporarily diverted around the line of Harris fencing - we and the contractors apologise for any inconvenience caused by this. I am getting some new signage up both at the Rocket Field and at the Castle gate which will get across to visitors what is going on and hopefully as the season progresses we can do something a little more creative with our interpretation.

The shop is closed at the moment for stock-taking but will reopen on Saturday 11th February in time for half term the following weekend. Mel is now running both the Seahouses and Holy Island shops so you may not see as much of her, but do pop in to see Biddy and the girls once they are back open, I'm sure they'll have some enticing deals on offer.

Best wishes

Nick
Lindisfarne Castle
nick.lewis@nationaltrust.org.uk // @NTLindisfarne // 01289 389903

ISLAND MEMORIES REVIVED OF VISITS LONG AGO Ian Kerr

A wave of fond memories seems to have been created among readers of my new book, The Birds of Holy Island, detailing the wildlife of the island and the surrounding national nature reserve.

The book has sold well locally and nationally and copies have even been bought by birders in the United States, Denmark and Australia. Now some have written to say how the book has revived some very happy memories of visits to the island and north Northumberland in general.

One recalls the island having a significant impact on his teenage years with holiday weeks in winter and autumn staying with Mrs Drysdale in Fenkle Street. He also tells of long walking visits to the reserve while he was working at farms at Bamburgh and Spindlestone.

"High tide and my first under-age drink in a pub epitomised my first experience of life independent of parental restriction and the backdrop of the island was so splendid," he writes.

"I also worked on the farms over two harvests and one lambing. I was in the habit of walking from Bamburgh on my day off, northwards across Budle Bay on the low tide to gain Ross Back Sands and Skate Road.

"When time permitted I could continue on to the slakes and then back over the fields to Warren Mill to Bamburgh, always well after dark. Such long and glorious days. That part of Northumberland set the scene for my aspirations in field ornithology. Your text brought it back into sharp focus and I thank you for it."

His aspirations were certainly fulfilled and, picking up a doctorate along the way, he has gone on to a long and outstanding career in conservation in Scotland and has become one of Britain's most knowledgeable experts on iconic species such as Osprey, Golden Eagle and White-tailed Eagle.

Another reader gained his first experience as a teenager of catching and ringing waders on the North Shore in the 1950s when he stayed at the bird observatory set up by Dr Eric Ennion at Monks House, midway along the road between Bamburgh and Seahouses.

Siberian Accentor: the first found in Northumberland and only the fifth sighting for Britain, photographed in bushes at the Greenshiel excavations by regular island  birder Andy Mould.

From those beginnings he went on to pioneer the use of canon nets on The Wash to catch huge numbers of waders for ringing and other studies. He eventually emigrated to Australia in 1978 to pursue his career as a metallurgist, rising to head a national company.

Australia is the wintering ground for millions of waders from eastern Siberia, northern Asia, Alaska and other parts of the North Pacific. Using his expertise which began in those sessions on the North Shore, he helped set up a national study group and was instrumental in persuading the Australia government to take measures to protect these birds and their habitats. He has since been showered with honours for his work.

"It all seems a long time ago and a long way of as I've now lived in Australia for the last 38 years. But my days in Northumberland in the early and mid 1950s were certainly some of the most memorable in my life. That's where I really came to know waders and develop techniques for catching them to ring which has been the main component of my ornithological life ever since."

Yet another reader has written to tell of memorable occasions when he deliberately marooned himself on St Cuthbert's Island over high tide - hopefully after warning the Coastguards - to get close views of grebes, divers and various sea duck taking advantage of the flows and currents to feed.

Another visitor wrote that to say that if there was a finer and more atmospheric place to go birdwatching he'd yet to find it.

While we are around the island on a daily basis I think we tend to forget the profound effect it has on many visitors, such as those who have been in contact with me about the book. It certainly seems to have rekindled many memories for them of their younger days, something they have clearly never forgotten.

The book is continuing to sell well on the island, thanks to the Post Office and the Lindisfarne Centre. Just after its publication, in the usual way of things, there was a sudden run of new and extremely rare birds on the island. One of them, a Siberian Accentor, a close relative of our humble and everyday Dunnock, had not been previously found in Northumberland. In fact, until last October it had never been recorded in Britain.

As a result and to enable everyone who has bought the book and wants to keep it up to date , I've compiled a supplement detailing the four new species which have occurred and a few others who have made very rare appearances.

This supplement is now available as a free download from the website of the publishers, www.natureguides.com  Alternatively, I can supply copies for anyone who contacts me at ianisland@blueyonder.co.uk  .

NATURAL ENGLAND LINDISFARNE NNR Mhairi Maclauchlan

It's been a while since our last update and there has been plenty happening on the Reserve.  The cattle went back to their home near Lowick before Christmas. Volunteer, staff and the farmers all helped to round them up. By the time you read this the sheep will also have finished their island castaway. They've done a great job and we've managed to graze even more areas than last year. What has been amazing to see is the amount of scrub and non-native species the sheep have tackled. Coupled with volunteer assisted scrub management we can't wait to see what the summer holds for wildflowers and invertebrates.

On the subject of volunteers we have some amazing people that help us out regularly. They showed how dedicated they were at the beginning of January when they turned out following some of the worst weather we've had all winter. We did a thorough litter pick of Goswick and are looking to organising more volunteer picks every month to compliment the litter picks the Reserve staff already do. We welcome anyone who may want to help out - it's a great way to get out into some beautiful surroundings and keep fit.

Our seasonal warden Alex will also have finished her contract. She's done a great job over the last few months checking stock, undergoing surveys and helping with events. We wish her all the best in her future career.

Over Christmas we ran an advent calendar on the blog and Facebook and chose different aspects of Reserve to celebrate each day. One of our volunteers John Dunn takes amazing pictures around Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve and kindly allows us to use them - have a look if you have time.

In December, our geese and duck numbers reduced and we had a peak count of around 1200 pink footed-goose, 1094 light-bellied brent, 1750 wigeon, 320 intail. You may have noticed a few duck around the causeway bridge and we've regularly been seeing 6 scaup around this area. These diving duck have a slight resemblance to tufted duck but a distinct feature is the white at the base of the bill. We have also had a small flock of up to 16 white-fronted geese through the end of December and into January throughout the Reserve.

Mhairi Maclauchlan
Reserve Warden, Beal Station
Mhairi.Maclauchlan@naturalengland
Tel: 01289 381 470

ED: Mhairi's blog and facebook page can be found at http://lindisfarnennr.blogspot.co.uk/ and www.facebook.com/lindisfarnennr.

NORTHUMBERLAND BUSINESS AWARDS Editor

Fingers-crossed for Emma Rothera who has been short listed in the Creative Industry Award Category of the Northumberland Business Awards.

Emma will be attending a Black Tie Awards Dinner on 2nd February at Linden Hall where she will be finding out if she has won.

Visit Emma Rothera Photography: www.yourbeautifulphotography.com

PEREGRINI LINDISFARNE LANDSCAPE PARTNERSHIP David Suggett

 New coastal path being developed

Work has begun on surveying and researching the first section of a planned coastal walk between Cocklawburn and the causeway at Beal. Volunteers are helping the Peregrini team to explore and survey the northern stretch of the coastline between Cocklawburn and Goswick, the former being the northern gateway of the Peregrini area and remarkable for its geology and industrial heritage.

2 further recce walks are planned in February and May with a launch walk planned on 1st July.

Willow Sculptures to be included on the Lindisfarne Nature Trail

Up to twelve sculptures, inspired by the fauna and flora of Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve will be created by Anna Turnbull, local artist and willow sculptor and Peregrini volunteers.

As part of Peregrini's Creative Arts and Landscape Appreciation Project, people will have the opportunity to get involved in assisting Anna weave the willow sculptures at six workshops between now and June. 

Larger-than-life, the willow sculptures will be positioned on the Lindisfarne Nature Trail that loops to the north of Holy Island village and includes a range of habitats from meadows, wetlands, rugged coast and dunes. A leaflet of the work will also be produced to showcase the work. 

Subjects for the willow sculptures include Lapwing, Arctic Tern, Brent Geese, Cormorant, Swift, the Short Eared Owl and the Fritillary Butterfly. Locations for the sculptures include Window on the Wild, the Lough Hide, the Old Waggon Way, the Links dunes and the Straight Lonnen.

Up and coming events and activities

For further information and booking requirements, as well as our full list of events, please go to our website www.peregrinilindisfarne.org.uk/events/

KIPPY LAW HEUGH - CONSERVATION WORKS
7th, 14th, 21st and 28th of February, 10am to 3pm

Gorse Bashing and a Bonfire! Come Help!

Whin sill outcrops create unique grasslands in the Peregrini Lindisfarne landscape. Unfortunately these wonderful grasslands are under threat from invasive species of plants, in particular gorse.

Come along for gorse bashing and a bonfire, safe in the knowledge that cutting back this prickly plant will benefit the future conservation of this unique habitat!

Join the team between 10am - 3pm (or for as long as you can spare!) Tools and training will be provided.

Meet at the public layby between Easington and Chesterhill farms, approx. 2km north east of Belford.

BOOKING ESSENTIAL. To find out more / to book your place,
please email Sarah.Winlow@northumberland.gov.uk or call 07557 326797

Willow Sculptures and Baskets #2

Saturday 25th February - 10.30 - 4.30pm
Meet at Hunting Hall, Beal, TD15 2TP

Learn how to willow weave and help create baskets or larger than life willow sculptures for the Lindisfarne Nature Trail. Tuition from Anna Turnbull and the Northumbria Basketry Group. Book onto a morning or afternoon session, or attend the whole day!

Peregrini Volunteer Conference 

Saturday 4th March - 10.30am - 4.00pm
Holy Island Village Hall, Holy Island, TD15 2ST

Peregrini's second annual conference will update you on work completed across the landscape partnership area and give you the opportunity to find out what's happening in 2017.

Guest speakers will include our community project leads and volunteers associated with the programme. They will give you a first-hand account of what they've got out of being involved and how the projects have helped develop skills and created learning opportunities. Also present will be our partners who help deliver the scheme.

Visit our project information stands to see how things have developed and sign up for new activities and events happening throughout 2017. We'll also be offering a guided walk around some of the completed and ongoing projects.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

FROM THE OPEN GATE Kevin Downham

As the clock struck midnight on the eve of this new year it heralded for some a time of uncertainty, for others a sense of fear but whatever your outlook, whatever your views on Brexit or Donald Trump it was going to be a time of new beginnings. New beginnings bring a new regime and a new way of thinking; the old, whilst not forgotten, can be assigned to the history books to remind us that we don't always get things right but more importantly could prevent us making the same mistakes again.

It's new beginnings too for the Community of Aidan and Hilda and the Open Gate; Lesley and I enter our first full year as Wardens of the Open Gate and leaders of the Community's Holy Island Team. The re-structure that took place during the last quarter of 2016 saw Ray move off the island and settle into his permanent new home in Berwick. Some internal re-apportioning of working hours gives a more even spread across the team's working week. Ellie took a well-earned break in Zealand to go and spend some time with her daughter and we look forward to welcoming her back in February.

The closed season has been a busy time for us; we have had a new roof which should prevent last year's internal water feature flooding the foyer every time it rained. We have painted throughout and have upgraded many of the soft furnishings. We are grateful to the team of local craftsmen including Colin Dougal, Craig Wells, Stewart Bryson, Kenny Lowe and Eddie the painters for all their skill and patience.

Our focus, as always, is on hospitality and we are looking forward to opening our doors once again to those who come this island, and the Open Gate, for so many different reasons. We will continue to try and use local produce where possible and are excited that we may be using vegetables grown within shouting distance of our kitchen. For those guests who visit us on a bed and breakfast basis we will continue to encourage them to avail themselves of the wide range of food and hospitality that the island offers.

The programme for this year has had a refresh too; whilst we are keeping some of our most popular retreats we are looking to increase the range and variety we offer. We are introducing several creative style retreats and in December a retreat which looks at traditional village carols. Next year we are hoping to introduce further creative retreats to include the fauna and flora of the island, icon writing and island archaeology.

'Why do you come to Holy Island?' we asked our guests last year and the answers were as varied and diverse as the guests themselves. For many it was the wider 'spiritual' experience of the island, for others it was the opportunity to meet up with friends; others wanted to experience the beauty of the place, others to experience the silence and the solitude.

What became obvious is that each person who visits is touched by the island and by its people; in return they support the local economy whilst taking away lasting memories and life changing opportunities.

Sitting here in the late winter sun with the sound of birds enjoying the warmth of the late afternoon sun there are many reasons to be optimistic. There are many reasons too to be grateful - and sharing this island, its beauty and its history with those who've lived here for generations may only be one of them - but it is a huge privilege and not one for a minute that we take for granted.

Kevin Downham
Joint Warden

NEWS FROM FORD & ETAL Elspeth Gilliland

Attractions at Ford & Etal (excluding Etal Castle) are open for short hours during February half term.  A poster is attached and below are the words from our website.  After that the opening dates for the season as are follows:

Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre is open daily except Mondays from 7th February - with rare breed lambs to see. Also they will have the first of their monthly farmers markets on 19th February, 10am-4pm, thereafter every 3rd Sunday of the month.

Heatherslaw Cornmill & Lady Waterford Hall open daily from Saturday 25th March

Heatherslaw Light Railway open daily from Sunday 26th March

Etal Castle (English Heritage site) open daily from Saturday 1st April

"Searching for Spring!" 20th-24th February

Take a diesel train ride with Heatherslaw Light Railway with trains running at 11am, 12 noon, 1 and 2 pm.  Stop off at Etal and visit Lavender Tearooms or ride straight there and back, a round trip of approximately 50 minutes.

Monday- Wednesday are bread-making days at Heatherslaw Mill so as well as taking a tour of the building kids can make, bake and take home their own bread - if it lasts that long!  Thursday and Friday will be tours only with plenty of hands-on activities to enjoy.

Lady Waterford Hall, the old school, is offering Victorian school activities every day - a great way for 21st century children to find out how their 19th century ancestors would spend a day in school!

Kids go free at Lady Waterford Hall and Heatherslaw Cornmill!

At Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre meet the Clydesdales and other rare breeds and learn about farming in years gone by.

Refreshments available at tearooms across the estates.

Elspeth
tourism@ford-and-etal.co.uk
www.ford-and-etal.co.uk/events/event/703-searching-for-spring

FROM OUR UNITED REFORMED CHURCH MINISTER Revd Rachel Poolman

I am writing this at the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - a global event where Christians from different backgrounds come together to pray for an end to unhealthy division in the church.

On Holy Island our 3 church buildings - St Mary's Church of England, St Aidan's Roman Catholic and St Cuthbert's United Reformed Church (formerly Presbyterian) each have their own beauty, and each give visitors and worshippers different ways of spending time with God.  However, the fact that we have distinct identities does not mean that we are in competition, or divided when it comes to the bedrock of our faith and our willingness to serve others.  We do cooperate in lots of different ways - often practical ways that aren't very high profile, and it is always a pleasure when opportunity arises to share in acts of worship together.  In all three Island churches, the concerns of our Island community, of our visitors and of our world are held daily before God in prayer. 

Early in March, we will be sharing in another global Christian event on the Island - a service for the Women's World Day of Prayer will be held in St Cuthbert's and led by women from the different churches in Belford and on the Island.  (See information elsewhere in this publication)  The Women's World Day of Prayer started in the late 1800s, and each year a different country is responsible for producing a service that is shared around the world.  The focus on women is particularly important in countries where women do not have much of a voice - this year we are led by the women of the Philippines , asking the question 'Am I being unfair to you ?' It is remarkable to think that on March 3rd they will be being prayed for for 36 hours in 170 different countries around the globe.  This is another opportunity to celebrate oneness in the midst of difference.

And so together, we continue the centuries old tradition of Christian worship on the Island, acknowledging the gifts of the past, living in the present,  and trusting in the future.

Rachel Poolman
The Manse
01239 389254
centre@holyisland-stcuthbert.org
holyisland-stcuthbert.org.

St Cuthbert's building news

The St Cuthbert's Centre was closed in December and January to allow for redecoration and some annual refurbishment.  In the course of the work, we found extensive woodworm in the beautiful roof beams and rafters. The woodworm is treatable, and not a structural issue, but the wood needs sanding before treatment can take place.  Accumulated layers of varnish and woodstain since the building was erected in 1891 mean that this is a massive job, and I still haven't found a way of resolving the problem  !  So we will reopen in February, but at some point we may have to close again - watch this space !

Berwick Food Bank collection point

With our reopening we will resume acting as a collection point for the Berwick food bank.  For all of us this is an expensive time of year, and the pressure of finding money to keep warm when you are struggling financially is very real for many in our communities.  Your donations of non-perishable goods are always welcomed, as are toiletries, and baby products.

FROM THE VICARAGE Revd Dr Paul Collins

During what must have been a very tense and difficult exchange between Jesus and Pontius Pilate, as events move towards Jesus being sentenced to death: Pilate asks Jesus: What is truth? (John 18.38) The Gospel Writer (St John) records no immediate attempt to make a response to that question. And Jesus is quickly handed over to be crucified.

We live in times when the same question: What is truth? is being asked. Some commentators have suggested that we are living in a Post-Truth age. We seem to be approaching a moment when whatever someone asserts, is taken to be 'true'. Internet bloggers and website holders can, more or less, publish and assert anything they want. We the readers, the 'consumers' of their communications have somehow to distinguish between mere assertion and something which might be 'true'.

Historically three touchstones of what has been deemed to be important or of value are: Beauty, Truth and Goodness. But how do we know what is beautiful, true or good? These days beauty is often thought of as a matter of taste or fashion. Are truth and goodness similarly to be thought of in terms of current trends and taste? Is today's truth tomorrow's falsehood? The question: What is truth? is a challenging one in these days of global social media.

Perhaps part of the problem is that we have allowed ourselves to operate with a sense of the truth which was more firm or objective than is really the case. Things look different from different vantage points or perspectives. This makes life more complicated, because no one can simply claim that their perspective is true: someone may assert that their view is true and others are false ... but that does not make it so. Too often we have allowed the powerful to tell us what is true.

This brings us back to that tense conversation between Pilate with absolute power of life and death and Jesus who stood before him in sheer vulnerability. Pilate had asked Jesus about 'power' - he had asked him 'Are you a king?' Jesus replies that his kingdom is not like worldly kingdoms (not powerful in ordinary human terms). So Pilate says to him, 'So you are a king?' and Jesus answers, 'You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. ...' and Pilate asks him, 'What is truth?'

Jesus' perspective on truth is not about 'power' in terms of usual human politics. His take on truth is a reversal of the powerful telling us what is true. The answer to Pilate's question 'What is truth?' in St John's Gospel - is the story which unfolds of Jesus' Passion, his death and resurrection. The story of Jesus' utter vulnerability in the face of Roman Imperial power and the politics of Jewish religious leaders. This sits with Jesus' claim: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14. 6). Jesus' take on truth is that it happens between 'the way' and 'the life'. Truth is not some absolute taught to us by the powerful: it is to be discerned and learned by following in the vulnerable way of Jesus and living life according to those values and insights.

So the truths of the powerful: bloggers, politicians, media moguls need always to be weighed up in terms of the values which those 'truths' are rooted in and embody. Are they values of the likes of Pilate or of the likes of Jesus? Are they values of a kingdom of justice and peace for all?

Paul Collins
The Vicarage, Holy Island
Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 2RX
Tel. 01289 389 216
incumbentholyisland@gmail.com
www.stmarysholyisland.org.uk/

PARISH CHURCH DIARY [2017]
Wednesday 1st March: Ash Wednesday
Sunday 26th March: Mothering Sunday
Sunday 9th April: Palm Sunday
Saunday 16th April: Easter Day
St CUTHBERT CENTRE DIARY [2017]

'Am I being unfair to you ?'

Friday March 3rd at 10.30am

A SERVICE FOR
THE WOMEN'S WORLD DAY OF PRAYER

prepared by women from the Phillipines

Everybody welcome - not just women !


PAUSE FOR THOUGHT Revd Canon Kate Tristram

RESOLUTIONS

Is it now time to mourn for our New Year Resolutions?  Or are they already both gone and happily forgotten?  Or are you that strange person who has managed still to keep them, or perhaps that even stranger person who never made any?

For many of us there is a kind of magic in the idea of a new beginning.  Somehow things might be, or could be different.  Some of you will remember the great hopes at the beginning of the new millennium. Surely something would change. Yet January lst 2000 proved to be just a day like any other, and here we are, in the same old muddles or possibly worse.  And yet we have a feeling that won't go away, that we have a measure of freedom and that things could change.

The world is not short of advice about resolutions.  At this time of the year the women's magazines are full of it. Mostly, of course, about losing weight.  All this advice seems to me to boil down to two major points.

First, make just one resolution.  Be realistic: let it be something that you both can do and want to do.  Be as specific as possible about it.

Secondly, remember that resolutions are not like your best china.  They are not destroyed by being broken; they are still there.  Do you remember the joke about the little girl who was asked at Sunday School how many Commandments there are, and relied correctly 'Ten'.  Then the teacher said, a little severely, 'Supposing you were to break one of them?'  'Then,' the child replied, 'There would be nine.'  No, it isn't like that. 

I think the best advice about resolutions that I have read came from the Oxford theologian Austin Farrer who, speaking to young men about their spiritual lives, said, 'Resolutions are no use unless you are prepared to find them broken and renew them every day.'   It was in that simple persistence, and only in that, that success was to be found.