It was in the fifth century, and a boy in his late teens sat alone in a cold, Ireland cell. He'd been kidnapped from his English home six years prior by pirates. I wonder if he knew at all, sitting there, that the Lord would use him to change everything. Wherever his thoughts wandered, one day they were interrupted by a bodiless voice. The voice told him it was time to leave, to go home and be free again. So, young Patrick escaped. He went home, recovered, committed his life to the work of God, and then the voice spoke again. Go back, it said, spread the gospel throughout the Irish lands.
Thus, Ireland was introduced to Christ. And some accepted it, but many did not. Families were split, friends became enemies, social and mortal martyrdom took place. There was one believer, Finian, who left his home and dedicated his life to God and prayer. He and his brothers laid claim to an island off the west coast, Skellig Michael, and there they built a humble monastery of beehive huts. The island was tremendous; a sharp rise of six-hundred rocky feet that cut the wind in half and enraged the elements around it. Nothing grew there with ease, and fresh water was hard to come by. The men learned to catch fish and fowl, and these became their staple fare. Two things drew them to this place: its discomfort and its proximity to the mainland. The discomfort, a commonality among monks, pressed them into desiring God and depending on him entirely. And from Skellig, on a clear day, one could see the mainland of Ireland. For men who were chased out of their beloved county and still committed their lives to praying for it, this was ideal.
And it was with this conviction that Finian and his heirs held the island as keepers for centuries. They defended it from pirates and vikings, and braved the harsh conditions for the sake of their God and their country. Men died in establishing it and they died protecting it over the generations.
We live now in a strange time, when this sacred piece of land is seen as a national park, preserved but flocked by tourists. And now Disney has made its mark there as well, using the location as an epicenter for the new Star Wars franchise. What was once a place of solitude and survival is now one of the hottest spots in the world, and a common ground for historians and pop culture nuts to come together in awe. I cannot change the time I am in, as much as I would love to have seen it then. But no matter the era, my heart longs to stand at the top of that island, to feel the chill of a wind cut in half, and ask the God of Abraham, Isaac, Patrick, and Finian to meet me there.