Some of the nicer photos from the trip to Lindisfarne are up.
I know, I keep writing about how beautiful the site was, but I really can't explain how. The coworkers I have that have been there loathed it, and those that hadn't couldn't understand why I'd want to go look at "an old church". But these are the things that drive me to come to places like the UK. It's not that I don't love Canada with a passion, and I don't ever want to lose my Canadian citizenship. But right now, it's this opportunity to see things that are older than anything but the trees in my country.
(I admit to having a very building-oriented appreciation for history. I'm only somewhat interested in the history of Canadian prior to Confederation. There's no buildings, you see, so I can't make it real in my head.)
Part of it is that sense of 'Look at my works, ye might, and dispair'. I tend to get caught up in the drama of life, and forget that, in a few years, the things that upset me now will seem like strange memories. When I look at historic sites, I can forget those things, concentrate instead on something bigger.
Another part of it is my obsession with trying to make real people out of historic fact. I have this dream of making history something that's interesting and real to more people. I think a lot about teaching, either high school or college, and taking history out of that dreary thing you do for a few hours every week and into a class that you can find exciting. I had one really good history teacher in university that did this, but it was more the art history and classics that managed to make things interesting for more people. You can't kill my love of history, no matter how dull the teacher, but I saw my fellow students' eyes glazing over, and it made me sad.
Another aspect of loving historic sites so much is this sense I get of them. I've been trying to write about that, but each time my words get in the way. So I guess I'll just say again that I found the site very moving. The sense of isolation, even in a place where there were people, was quite overwhelming. If I ever went on a religious retreat, I'd want it to be a place like Lindisfarne.
(Then there's the bit of me that never quite stops planning a new RPG. "Oh, the castle! You can totally rent it out for a wedding, which means I could totally rent it for a game, and it would be so great and wonderful and--" And then I banged my head against a wall for a minute until the thought went away.)
Lindisfarne is still a spiritual and religious retreat. There are many places in the village that are hosting retreats for people, and it's something I'm considering doing. I'm thinking about going there in winter, when it's cold and dark and I tend to lose myself in cold dark thoughts.