'Plodging' is a Geordie word, roughly translated as 'paddling'. During the half term break, the team at Castlerigg went plodging - and even swimming - in the North Sea. We were following in the footsteps of the great northern saints. To understand them more and to make space for ourselves to experience what they experienced, we took the radical decision to leave behind all our mobile phones, tablets, music, TV, our whole world, so that we could truly enter into the great silence. Radical, or what!?
Who were these northern Saints? Back in the seventh century, St Aidan was sent from Iona to Lindisfarne (Holy Island) which in turn became a beacon of missionary hope, spreading the Gospel across St Oswald's kingdom. What Aidan began, St Cuthbert developed, and in turn other monasteries were established across the north-east, some of which became international centres of learning. Today, for instance, we are indebted to St Bede of Jarrow who subdivided time into BC/AD and gave to us his History, the first written history of Britain, helping Britons to forge an identity of themselves.
Without our phones, Facebook, Twitter, and everything else, life calmed down and we discovered how to live in the present moment, and how liberating it can be not to be a slave to the media, 24/7. In fact, life opened up, deep conversations were had, prayer was more profound, joy filled the house, and laughter erupted spontaneously. Whether walking amidst the sand dunes of Holy Island or looking out to the Farne Islands from Bamburgh Castle, or admiring with awe the beauty of Durham cathedral, or sharing a quiet moment of prayer in the seventh-century crypt of St Wilfrid in Hexham, all of us felt much refreshed from plodging with the saints.