William McTaggart The Coming of Saint Columba

William McTaggart, The Coming of St Columba (1895) National Galleries of Scotland

A smell of saltiness and sand

of spiky yellowy grass on the machair

of freshness in the wind.


A sound of waves again and again

of gulls, skuas and cormorants crying

and distant voices hailing us from the small coracle.


The clouds scudding along

rolling and tumbling to who knows where?

White, billowing, fluffy clouds

holding perhaps the promise of rain.


But more than anything I could see water.

Salty water to cleanse and heal

tumbling over rocks and stones

bringing shelled creatures to the seashore

and leaving them.


It was water that brought Columba

from Ireland to Scotland

bringing the Word, bringing his message.

Ebbing and flowing

slaking their thirst.


Waters of Creation

to baptise, renew, refresh

to restore all things

immersing them in new life.

By the gentle dew, the steady rain,

God nourishes and gives increase to all that grows.

Grow in us, this Lent.


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