Skellig Michael

The early morning fog finally lifted, unveiling a mirror of topaz water in the little harbor. Twelve of us, all from different countries and nationalities clambered aboard one of the small boats heading out this early morning. Yesterday was a postcard-perfect day, but the swells of the Atlantic were still too much for the little fishing boats. The landing was too risky; virtually all of the excursions had been canceled.

We set out on our eleven-mile ride, the captain picking up the speed as we left the inlet and entered the open ocean. The boat heaved to and fro as the giant swells rolled under us. As we crashed against the higher swells, spread washing over half of our little party, my mind drifted to the original pilgrims, the Irish believers or “monks” as they’re described, who set out for the skelligs less than five hundred years after the Romans hung our Christ on the cross. Our ride would take us a short forty-five minutes. It sometimes took them a day and a half, depending upon the elements. The weight of their determination seems to descend upon us. The man next to me, speaking to no one in particular, said aloud, “Wow, can you believe the depth of their faith?”

An excerpt from Skellig Michael in Breath No. 1.