* St Cuthbert’s Day
* Robinson’s German Journey
ST CUTHBERT’S DAY
Tomorrow - Tuesday 20 March - is St Cuthbert’s Day and it is now a long-standing tradition for truckshunters to spare a moment during the day to remember the patron saint of north-east England.
His gentle spirituality has been mentioned and praised many, many times and, in his affection and care for the birds and other animals that surrounded him on Lindisfarne and Inner Farne, he has often been called the English St Francis of Assissi.
The Venerable Bede wrote a biography of St Cuthbert. Here are two extracts from it.
'He was affable and pleasant in his character; and when he was relating to the fathers the acts of their predecessors, as an incentive to piety, he would introduce also, in the meekest way, the spiritual benefits which the love of God had conferred upon himself.
And this he took care to do in a covert manner, as if it had happened to another person...'
'So devout and zealous was he in his desire after heavenly things, that, whilst officiating in the solemnity of the mass, he never could come to the conclusion thereof without a plentiful shedding of tears.
But whilst he duly discharged the mysteries of our Lord’s passion, he would, in himself, illustrate that in which he was officiating; in contrition of heart he would sacrifice himself to the Lord; and whilst he exhorted the standers-by to lift up their hearts and to give thanks unto the Lord, his own heart was lifted up rather than his voice, and it was the spirit which groaned within him rather than the note of singing.
In his zeal for righteousness he was fervid to correct sinners, he was gentle in the spirit of mildness to forgive the penitent, so that he would often shed tears over those who confessed their sins, pitying their weaknesses, and would himself point out by his own righteous example what course the sinner should pursue.
He used vestments of the ordinary description, neither noticeable for their too great neatness, nor yet too slovenly…'
I hope you find a kind and gentle way to mark his special day.
ROBINSON’S GERMAN JOURNEY
The day after St Cuthbert’s Day is the vernal equinox - the first day of Spring. It is an appropriate day, I think, for me to set out once again on another journey of discovery and exploration, of the sort my Grand Tour two years ago gave me a taste and a hankering for.
My journey then - through Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and France - was an astonishing experience and, like all great journeys should, it taught me things about myself I didn’t know and laid before me sights and sounds I had not expected.
This time I will be making my restless way across the Netherlands and northern Germany.
I will begin this second - and less ambitious - Grand Tour in Amsterdam, a city I already know and love and from whose company I have been parted for far too long.
I have heard and read many wonderful reports about Berlin; it’s been on my shortlist of ‘places to visit before I die’ for some years now, and at last I am able to fulfill my dream of wandering its streets, visiting its museums and galleries, looking out for its historical landmarks - both good and bad - and meeting at least some of its people.
Two more nights in my beloved Amsterdam will bring my German Journey to a close.
Unless I fall in love with Amsterdam all over again and - this time - decide to ‘drop anchor’ there for good. You never know…
I’ll be taking my laptop Mac with me on my journey so - wifi permitting - will be able to post short update blogs as I go.
Expect the first one later this week…..
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