Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Vision (08/03/06)
- TITLE: The Vision of Dallan Forgaill
By Marty Wellington
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Our life was a simple one at Inis Coel; it nurtured us and brought illumination. We prepared ourselves for missionary service. Our Heavenly Father walked about the isle with us. His breath refreshed us along the craggy, steep cliffs and we listened for His sweet voice amidst the spray of the surf. He was everywhere--alive in all of His creation.
It was my honor to serve as scribe to Brother Dallan in his last years. His eyesight had failed years earlier due to his countless hours of studying. I remember the first time I saw him in his cell he was seated on a tiny primitive wooden stool bent over a darkly weathered copy of the scriptures. Upon hearing my feet upon the cold stone, he raised his head, wrinkling his nose—his eyes barely visible behind crinkled, squinting eyelids. How his heart shone through his cheerful smile and outstretched arms. Sometimes it felt as if Christ Himself had come down to earth again in the form of a crooked backed, blind man named Dallan.
In the year of our Lord 598, marauders approached Inis Coel. The younger brothers were instructed to flee to the mainland, escaping with the sacred texts. Putting out to sea in our tiny boat, we turned, in morbid helpless curiosity to see the spectacle unfolding on the overhanging cliffs. I watched in wonder as my teacher, dear Brother Dallan, stood near the cliff’s edge, arms outstretched heavenward, as if in holy communion with Our Lord. Then, suddenly, horribly, a sword sliced the air, lobbing off his head. It whirled grotesquely, falling into the sea.
Herein follows Brother Dallan’s last words, as transcribed by I, Eioan, humble servant of our Lord Jesus.
Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Christ,
After years of study and prayer, God’s truth is well hidden in my heart, and I am hopeful for the continuance of our faith. King David reminds me that waking or sleeping, God’s presence is my light. Therefore, I have no need to fear the darkness. I rejoice.
God’s gift of praise still resonates with me. Now fully blind, I finally understand that He is fully my vision. His thoughts truly are my best thoughts. He is my wisdom, my word, my father, my battle shield, my sword, my dignity, my delight, my high tower, my power, my inheritance, my treasure. I rejoice.
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Riches I need not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.¹
My journey is nearly complete. I rejoice.
Brother Eioan, this missal is entrusted to you for safekeeping. Keep it close to your heart, along with my other writings. Deliver them to the saints so our Lord’s legacy may live on and that His words written herein may inspire our people to live holy lives for Our Lord Jesus.
Your servant in Christ,
Inis Coel, Year of Our Lord 598
Saint Dallan Forgaill, born around 530 AD in Magh Slécht, County Cavan, Ireland is credited with writing Be Thou My Vision. He was declared Chief Barb of Ireland in 575 AD; was beheaded and martyred by pirates on the island of Inis Coel off the coast of Donegal in 598 AD. (¹attr. Dallan Forgaill, trans. by Mary E. Byrne. Pub. 1905, Public Domain)
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