This prayer hymn composed by Hallgrimur Petursson, a seventeenth century religious poet, one of Iceland’s greatest, greeted us to our rooms in Skalholt today.
About forty of us are gathered in this sacred site, where Iceland’s first Bishopric was established. We came by air, by coach and car, from Iceland itself, and from across Europe – from the Netherlands, Latvia, Estonia, Great Britain, Ireland, Malta, Romania, France, Lithuania, Finland, Norway and Poland – and from the United States too.
I’m reminded of a children’s rhyme learned forty-odd years ago in Palermo: Siamo arrivati da mill estrade diverse, in mille modi diversi, in mille momenti diversi, perche’ l’Signore ha voluto cosi’ … Here we are, arriving by a thousand roads, in a thousand ways, at a thousand different moments, because Our Lord so willed.
It’s so good to be reunited after two years of enforced separation: the deep hugs convey the joy of seeing familiar faces, of greeting new ones!
The long road from Keflavik Airport introduced us to Iceland’s landscapes – the dark, lichen-covered rock; mountains streaked with snow, rearing on every horizon; contorted hills and outcrops; the sea, swift-running rivers, scattered homesteads, distant clouds and steaming hot springs – the bare elements of life, with their pastel colours, hard forms and liquid movements. From tomorrow, we will hear this land speak.
Dinner conversations – catching up with friends; getting to know those attending for the first time; savouring Iceland’s food and hospitality.
Then off to the meeting room to inaugurate our assembly. Lehel greeted us as pilgrims and sojourners, positioning our assembly in the unfolding, troubled history of Europe. With gentle humour, Bishop Kristjan Ingolfsson welcomed us on behalf of Iceland’s Church to Skalholt, the holy, beating heart of Iceland’s faith for a thousand years. SDE, our very own ‘house-Church’, pauses here in Skalholt, to listen to God’s Spirit speaking from the land of ice and fire, the Great Blacksmith’s mighty forge.
Link to see Opening ceremony in Youtube, click here!
Lehel welcomes everyone to the Meeting. Click here for the text
Bishop Kristján welcomes SD-Europe to Skálholt.