In February last year, my husband and I traveled to Ireland and stayed in Donegal, due a friend' s kind generosity where she had offered us her home for the stay. While there we visited St. Columba's well. It is a pilgrimage that many make -usually in the summer. It was a dark, wet day and there had been a little bit of snow. The landscape was stark and the footing on the climb was rough. Somehow, as we were returning to the car, I slipped and fell down a good portion of the remaining terrain. I have a track record of falling, but this was a doosie, and I was covered from head to toe in cold mud. I had a few unkind things to say about St. Columba at the time. Fortunately we were alone save for two German tourists who were a long way off. With nothing but a sore knee and damaged pride, we headed back for a change of clothes, a cup of tea, and a good laugh.
Reflecting on that landscape, and the times in which he lived, I am amazed at Columba's willingness to face all the physical challenges of spreading the Gospel. Life offered no comforts, and the rough, rocky earth provided only challenge. But, all these generations later, his offering and zeal still has the power to transform the lives of many people.
I pray that today, I can take a little courage from Columba. The challenges are there, but so is God. In the midst crisis and challenge - physical and political - he kept a clear focus on mission and caring for others. I pray that I too, can keep a clear focus on mission, on the compassionate ministry of Christ, which calls us all to reach beyond every boundary, every physical challenge, every personal obstacle in order to bring love to the world. God give us grace this day to be a little like Columba, fierce and faithful despite the challenges.