During my visit to The Holy Island of Lindisfarne last year, I sat on the shore by the Lindisfarne Causeway and watched the tide come in and cover the road.
Here are my insights – and a few images – from that experience.
Sitting at the end of the causeway and watching the tide come in is one of the activities suggested for you here Give Yourself a Retreat on Holy Island by Ray Simpson. It has many benefits and can be quite amusing as you watch cars driving along the road well outside the safe crossing time, and wonder whether they’ll soon be floating away. This too can be a good prompt to reflect upon the quality of patience.
It’s also a challenge to your ability to sit quietly for an extended length of time and meditate; to some it can become boring. We sat with several other people, some of who left early, but we stayed till the water was surging across the road.
I found myself thinking of the High Tide of God; sometimes it comes flooding in over the road and then you may not pass. At other times, it is out, and your way along the road is free.
Of course, you can interpret the tide differently, reversing the meaning.It all depends upon the viewpoint you take; whether you see yourself sitting on the shore, or whether you see yourself as a boat, or as a bird skimming the waves. Instead of equating the tide with a signal that you must patiently wait, you can equate it with a time for fruitful action. That is how Shakespeare interpreted it when he wrote: There is a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the flood leads on to fortune.
So even non religious people can sit here at the end of the causeway and take from this their own reflections on life.
Whichever way you view it, the whole experience is full of symbolic meaning, which you can also explore in this book: Sacred Spaces by Margaret Silf.
My personal reflections for my own life, work equally well when applied to the current world scene.
I believe, with Tolstoy (see my previous blog post here) that “the times produce the man”; and currently, those who voted Trump in as President hold the moral responsibility for elevating him into a major role in their society. The tide in the affairs of men, that Shakespeare referred to, has thrown up this situation… and though many hold different views, perhaps we must just wait for the tide to recede, taking with it all the flotsam and jetsam.
Curiously, you can apply this principle to the writing of novels too. Sometimes you find you have a major character in a minor role, and vice versa. This can underlie problems with story-writing when you get stuck, and perhaps you can’t initially work out what you’re doing wrong.
And also you can equate creativity with the tide; the high tide of ideas. As the tide surges in, so can our ideas – but only if we get to work.
And lastly we, as writers, can see the tide as Shakespeare did: a tide of fortune. Are we boats, or birds, or perhaps merely foam on the crest of the waves? We may be a beautiful beached fish, just waiting for the tide to sweep us up again. However we see it, we can learn many things from sitting patiently at the end of the causeway, and waiting and gazing.
7 thoughts on “What the Tide at Lindisfarne Has To Teach a Creative Writer”
I grew up in California, body surfing in the ocean. As a writer, I think about that experience. How important it was to time the wave, to use the ocean to propel me forward! I can swim against the tide, it strengthened my arms and legs. Fighting the tide gave me perspective. But riding the wave, timing the motion, could carry me home. So much of what we do is just as you describe. Using the tide, rather than being swept away by it, is the key. Thanks for the post! The pictures are beautiful.
Thank you for your comment, Angela. The tide is certainly a wonderful metaphor for writers, especially in the current publishing world.
Interesting meditation. Tides are interesting and dangerous things.
Thank you for your comment April. And it all depends on our perspective as to where the danger lies for us!
Wonderful post! On a recent visit to Lindisfarne I also found meditating on the tides to be a very profound and moving experience and I prompted me to write this poem.
Free to roam
Free to soar
Free to walk once ocean floor
Pole to pole
Stride by stride
You are with me by my side
Awe of creation, I drink in
I was empty
I was lost
Your abundant love, it has no cost
The tides in me
They ebb and flow
Upon your shores I’m safe I know
As I leave
I take with me
Replenished faith and serenity
© Debbie Razey 2016
Thank you for your poem Debbie which is beautiful. I found that as I was writing the post I imagined myself back there watching the tide come in. Just imagining it puts you into a calm and meditative state, that helps you see life in perspective. I’m so glad I have your poem as I can read that and also visualise being back on Lindisfarne again.