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St Columba’s Bay: A burial

October 6, 2012

I recently did a pilgrimage that took me and several friends, some old, some new to Ireland, Scotland and a little dip into England. Each place had its mega-delights, surprises and charms and the relational gains were immense when I consider how fast I got close to this little posse of pilgrims.

There were however three standouts in terms of personal growth that I’ve been longing to share in writing. Two of them had to do with a new understanding of how my life now as an entrepreneur fits with my younger life as a minister. And the other has to do with some final healing related to the deaths of my friends Chad Canipe and Mark Palmer.

You may know this about me already but my left arm is one big tattoo. It is mostly a memorial and declaration related to that profound loss. Two young men, both starting out in ministry with incredible zeal and wisdom beyond their years and both husbands and fathers of young children. They were two of my closest allies and they died within 2 weeks of each other; one totally unexpectedly, the other after a recurring battle with cancer.

Our pilgrimage guide and my friend and spiritual director Mary knew of this profound grief that I have been holding onto for years now – almost 7 to be exact. She also knew that the Celtic Christian tradition was stirring up those feelings of loss in big with me as both Chad and Mark felt deeply connected to that tradition through their study and admiration of Celtic church history and praying Celtic Daily Prayers from the Northumbria community. In her own unique way that only Mary can bring she told me it was time to leave them there. To find the closure I desperately needed but couldn’t quite embrace. 

When we reached St. Columba’s bay after a long walk I decided that it was time. I picked up two gorgeous white rocks from the bay and found a perch on top of this massive 20 foot high rocky outcropping – it required a little climbing – and extended into the bay. Waves were crashing on all sides and I was alone with the two rocks on my perch. Each rock of course represented one of my friends and after a brief conversation with each of them where I poured out my heart and my grief I threw them into the bay below, burying them among the crashing Celtic waves on the ocean floor below. I had an image in my head later that night as I recalled this that they were walking into a huge banquet, together, with large wooden doors closing behind them as they entered into a feast. Once the doors were closed all that was left was for me to turn around and face the work in front of me and stop longing to be with them. Togetherness, I believe, will come in time – or beyond time as the case may be! For now I am left here, facing the work that is set before me. There is still much I have to do before I can join them and my other two revelations from this pilgrimage clarified what that work entails…  

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 6, 2012 1:34 pm

    Thanks for making me cry this morning. Seriously though, I’m thrilled you’ve found peace. You deserve it. Bless you brother.

  2. October 6, 2012 1:55 pm

    Thanks DG! I’ve cried many tears over the past several years… some with you! As we heal I’m excited to be about the work that is before us. The best is yet to come for both of us!

  3. October 6, 2012 8:41 pm

    Thanks for sharing this Kevin. How wonderful that you were able to both connect with and let go of the grief that has haunted you for so long. May those soul ties look and feel differently to you now as are faithful to your call under their smiles. We love you.

    • October 7, 2012 1:49 pm

      Thanks Sandie! Would love to share more over wine and a slow meal with you and yours sometime soon…

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