It looks like snow outside. Dara inspired me to dig into the meaning of my name. I always thought it meant “from the linden tree isle” – which sounded romantic, but vague. Where is this linden tree isle? I like names that describe (“Reese” – enthusiastic, stream, meadow) or ones that ask questions (like “Michael” – my personal favorite -“Who is like God?”). Mine was some abstract, lame-o place somewhere, where ladies in swing and take tea in pastoral scenes, and everybody is at leisure. Bor-ing.
So I dug a little deeper (thank you, Google), and lo-and-behold, Lindsay is a place – kinda. Not only is it a surname for some promient families in England and Scotland (ahem!), but said island is Lindisfarne in Northumbria, England. Which is on the northeastern coast – you can practically breathe Scottish air when the wind’s out of the north. “Lindisfarne” is derived from farne (“retreat”) and lindis (a small tidal river adjacent to the island). It’s also called “Holy Island”. This little island is separated from the mainland twice a day when it floods with the tides – as described by Sir Walter Scott:
- For with the flow and ebb, its style
- Varies from continent to isle;
- Dry shood o’er sands, twice every day,
- The pilgrims to the shrine find way;
- Twice every day the waves efface
- Of staves and sandelled feet the trace.
Pilgrims? Why, yes! The island is the site where St. Aidan (missionary from Iona, Scotland, and originally from Ireland) came around 635 AD and sparked the Christian evangelization of northern England. That’s a story unto itself. Recently, Lindisfarne has become the center of a Celtic Christian revival. The ruins of a priory are still there, and rustic stakes still mark the path along the causeway where pilgrims can walk across to the island when the tide is low. It looks like a beautiful place. There’s a little town on the island of about 200 people, and a Tudor castle on the highest point. It’s also a haven for wintering birds.
It’s nice to put my name to a place – to have a connection with history, and to know in fact what I always imagined my name to mean – a place of peace, a retreat, a closeness to nature and friendship with God. Hopefully someday I’ll be able to frame a snapshot of myself standing in the Pilgrim’s Way, on the shore of that flat, lovely island with Lindisfarne Castle in the distance.