This story of the healing of a young lad brought to Cuthbert on a stretcher reminds us of the paralytic lowered through the roof in front of Jesus. Here the story happens in a remote and mountainous region that has never been identified. However, further details from the Anonymous Life of Cuthbert (an earlier ‘Life’ from which Bede draws) tell us it happened half way between Hexham and Carlisle, and that the bishop and his retinue accessed the area by a Via, probably a Roman Road. Bede tells us booths were made as shelters from branches cut from the local woods for Cuthbert’s stay. Bewcastle is a remote mountainous area, with a ruined Roman fort, that lies at the end of a Roman Road to the north of Hadrian’s Wall, half way between Hexham and Carlisle. ‘Bewcastle’ means ‘booths in the Roman fort’. Its church is dedicated to St Cuthbert.
Jesus keeps repeating these warnings about ‘being ready’, and his coming at ‘an unexpected hour’. Ordinary, everyday life just continues as it always has done, as it always will, one day followed by the next. Up in the morning, dress, breakfast, the routine of the day… And then it happens, without any warning. And when it happens, we move straight towards it without hesitation, without looking back, without saying ‘but what if…’ What will ‘it’ look like? Who knows? Only that we’ll know it when we see it. And so we persist, learning how to pray, how to ‘live’ in the knowledge of God’s presence with us. And as we do so, we begin to discover joy, deep as the dark salt sea, silent as the cool mountain rock. As one of the Prayer Book morning collects says, ‘in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom.’