Æthelwold was a leatherworker who left 7th-century England to live in a cell on an island in the North Sea. The place was settled a few decades earlier by Saint Cuthbert: Cuthbert died there, but not before instituting the world’s first laws conserving the habitats of birds, with whom the monks shared the place. So it wasn’t totally lonely.
In fact, Æthelwold received visitors at least once. Three monks came over in a small boat, but on the way back fair weather turned to a raging storm. They couldn’t go back, they couldn’t go forward. They were certain they were going to drown. But through the swells they caught a glimpse of Æthelwold. He’d come down to the shore and fallen to his knees in prayer. Suddenly, it was as if the storm had been put on pause: smooth water and soft winds offered a way home. They docked the boat, and once again the tempest surrounded Æthelwold’s little island.