Most of my life ago I decided that I only would believe things in my truest heart that honest Christians had believed in every century and every culture. That has been my hope, stumbling along as I do.
Good folk like Richard Baxter and C.S. Lewis argued for this in their time, seeing a “central hallway” running through history– calling it “mere Christianity” –with the most important beliefs about God, the human condition and history at the center of this long conversation among sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. The Orthodox would have their door off the hallway, as would the Catholics, as would the Protestants– and within those doors would be smaller conversations, often debates, between the Russian Orthodox and the Greek Orthodox, between the Jesuits and the Benedictines, between the Anglicans and the Presbyterians, and on and on and on.
And sometimes those conversations matter very much, sometimes those debates are very important.
But being on Inisheer the last two days has reminded me of the deeper, longer truths of life, and my life. There is a church from the 10th-century, now sunken into the ground because of 1000 years of blowing sand, which calls out to us through the generations, reminding us of the truest truths of the universe.
While the details are hard to know, it is believed that St. Brendan went out from and returned to Inisheer in the 5th-century, as did St. Columba. (Look them up, and see why their vocations had consequence for all of us.) This simple place is almost forgotten now, but for folk who see themselves as belonging to the deep, long story of the gospel of the kingdom, mere Christianity, then this place matters, its influence echoing across time into eternity.
For hundreds of years men and women have lived here, with “ora et labora” at the heart of their hope, seeing the world for what is and isn’t, and choosing to step into it, for love’s sake. Simply said, I have chosen that Story to make sense of my story– and therefore this place has meaning for the person I am, the person I want to be.