Monday, March 24, 2014

Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (634-687)

Cuthbert and the Otters

Late at night, after all of the monks had fallen asleep, he would sometimes sneak out of the monastery and head out to the sea, where he would wade into the water up to his neck, raise his arms to the sky, and pray with the rhythm of the waves. Although the monks realized that his bed was often empty, they were not entirely clear about what he did during his late-night adventures. One night, a monk decided to follow him discreetly, hoping that he would not be caught.
This is what he saw: Cuthbert waded deep into the sea, praying in his customary fashion. He prayed all through the night, and at the first light of dawn he returned to the shore and knelt for more prayer. When Cuthbert emerged from the sea he wasn't alone. He was followed by two otters, who panted on Cuthbert's feet to dry them, and snuggled against his body to try to warm him with their fur.

 The otters stayed with Cuthbert as he completed his prayer, kneeling before him in the sand. They did not depart until he offered them his blessing. The monk who had witnessed this remarkable sight was terrified. He could barely walk and stumbled several times on his way back to the monastery. There he watched Cuthbert pray the morning hours with the brother monks, and he knew he had to confess.

That morning, he fell on the ground before Cuthbert, weeping. St. Cuthbert said, “What is it, brother? What have you done?” The monk confessed to having followed him. St. Cuthbert offered his forgiveness on one condition — that he not share what he had seen until after his death. The monk agreed to this and kept the secret for all of Cuthbert's days. After the saint died in 687, the monk shared the story with anyone who would listen.

Link to Cuthberts Living Water from an acient well thumbnail Bio 

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