Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pilgrimage to Iona: Returning Home

Now in Amsterdam fixing to board the second leg of my flight home. In this busy busy place, so much for which to pray.  

My folks at home are still abed. Prayers for them abound. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Pilgrimage to Iona: The final day

All checked in for our flight at 6 AM tomorrow from Glasgow (apps are so great!), today we have one final road trip. 

A final bowl of porridge, tea, and brown toast for breakfast, a final cappuccino at the coffee place by the bay in Portree, this is a day of goodbyes. 

Beautiful drive, yet again, across Skye, 
pausing for sext, midday prayers. 

Singing as part of the worship a hymn we often sing at St. Mary's Sunday evening Eucharist 

Christ before us, Christ behind us, Christ under our feet. 
Christ within us, Christ over us, Let all around us be Christ. 

Taking a walk along the beach at  Kyleakin to view the Skye Bridge before driving over it to return to the mainland. 

Driving through the Highlands, finding a place for a picnic, and a walk through the woods, glimpsing the first of the Scottish fall colors

and down through Loch Lomond as the scenery continued to take our breath away. 

We'll be up at 3.30 to walk to the airport from our hotel to catch the early flight to Amsterdam. I'll then fly to Atlanta and finally home to Houston, God willing, to sleep in my own bed tomorrow night. 

I am grateful beyond words for the gift of this trip--for those who covered for me at St. Mary's so I could be here, for my traveling friend, for her husband who funded the trip, and for God who was our travel guide. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pilgrimage to Iona: Another Large Day in Skye

Another beautiful day on the Isle of Skye. 

First a walk to a beautiful hidden treasure, the Fairy Glen. Praying the mid morning Office, Terce, as we began our hike, we were reminded:

Having asked for direction and guidance, we pray now to equip ourselves properly for the journey ahead.

Hiking in this place of conical hills with grass cascading in folds down the sides amongst sheep, I happened upon three labyrinths.   One was perched on a hillside, and it's the first labyrinth I've walked that made me dizzy while walking.  

On down the road to Dunvegan for another trek called the Two Churches walk. The hike started at the ruins of St. Mary's Church (so many churches in ruins I've seen have been called St. Mary's that it's food for reflection for this rector of a chuch called St. Mary's on how to keep our parish lively). 

We hiked up and down hills, 
through bogs, 

along paths with the last wildflowers of the season, 

under cathedrals of pines, 

and ended up at a second church.  

Then into town to a lovely cafe for soup and the best scones of the trip. A rabbit trail of conversations with the two women who worked at Blas Cafe concluded with a chat about my daughter and her second cookbook. A proud mother across continents!

Pilgrimage to Iona: Good Morning God on the Isle of Skye

Good morning, God, this is your day. 
I am your child. Please show me your way.   AMEN

 Packing up for another day's adventure, the words from the Discernment office
from my book of prayers: 

As we begin the day, we focus on our calling to live faithfully, for who knows what today holds?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pilgrimage to Iona: A Large Day in Skye

Three ferries later, and a lot of driving on single lane roads, in and out of lay bys for oncoming cars and lorries, we were on the Isle of Skye. 

I was unprepared for the extraordinary landscapes. This may be the most beautiful place on earth. 

My friend and I, missing the daily rhythm of worship at the Abbey, decided to use the new book of Episcopal worship, Daily Prayer for all Seasons, at moments throughout the day. Truth be told, the views of creation we are seeing could not be experienced without stopping to praise God. It is all too big. We are in yet another thin place. 

Prayers at noon day were said while hiking the Quairang. As God would have it, the hymn appointed for that service was For the Beauty of the Earth.  How could we keep from singing?


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pilgrimage to Iona: And on to Skye

Up before the sun this morning packing for a road trip to Isle of Skye. A final breakfast at our perfect hotel before catching the first of three ferries today. 

Yesterday was full of sunshine, and we hiked to what may be the most beautiful beach in the world on the north end of Iona. 

Doing last things--last walk around the Abbey to see my favorite places, a final stop at the Iona Community shop for a present for my brother, a stop on a bench for an ice cream cone (the second best in the world). 

Worship in the Abbey last evening was a healing service. I had a list of those I am especially carrying in my heart to offer, one by one, to God's healing presence. 

On the wall of the alcove leading to the cloisters are these words:  

May it be so. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pilgrimage to Iona: Shining Like the Sun

God of all new beginnings, 
thank you for the promise of the journey. 
(Tom Gordon)

The sun is back and it's a large day. 

Saying traveling mercies at breakfast to new companions who are departing today, Anne, the woman of riper years from Virginia, said, "Pray for us. You are in church a lot!"  And so I am. 

Not nearly as windy yesterday, we were off for hikes. Partly sunny, partly rainy, after the gales of Sunday, the drops on my slicker felt just fine. It's interesting how going through one challenge makes challenges that follow seem, well, less challenging. 

We hiked to two beautiful beaches. 

Then we took off for The Hermit's Cell. The bog one must slog through was even boggier, so we reveled in the journey through the moors rather than the destination.  A reason to return to Iona--so many places still to see. 

At dinner last evening I met yet another Episcopal priest (are there any left in the States or are we all on Iona?). Turns out he was the priest who visioned The Bible Challenge, a means to read the Bible through in a year, with a distinctive Anglican flavor. I was delighted to tell him how life-changing it had been in the parish where I serve, as many of us we began together on The Feast of Pentecost, 2013. I told him of the joy as folks shared how reading the Bible from Genesis to Revelation had impacted their lives in Christ. I see their shining faces.  I thanked him for his gift to the Church. 

As we say at the Abbey

For the Word of God in Scripture, for the Word of God among us, for the Word of God within us, thanks be to God. 


Pilgrimage to Iona: A clearing morning

A hymn we sang at morning worship at the Abbey began, No wind at the window....Well, not really. Winds were 65 miles per hour in the night, and I awoke to the wettest, windiest day yet. Bicycles, a wheelbarrow, and leaves strewn, the paths were full of water. The photo above is blurry because of the rain through the window. Outside, my camera would have blown away!

When I walked out of worship, there it was: a patch of blue peeked from the grey, and the winds were gone. What a difference a stop for worship and prayer makes. 

This second trip to Iona, I'm struck by the people I've met, and with whom I've had conversation, and how they have enriched my trip. 

May, from Inverness, whom we met on the beach at St. Columbia Bay, and who was full of tales. She was on her own and needed companionahip. My friend walked the beach labyrinth with her. 

Two men from Scotland met while walking. One man's grandfather, an ordinary fellow, had brought George Carey to Christ. Yes, that George Carey, who would be Archbishop of Canterbury, an evangelist who would touch so many lives. There are no little acts for God. 

Kathleen and her elderly mother traveling from Virginia, Episcopalians. The mother is quite a chatterer, and Kathleen was infinitely patient.  The mother's many stops for conversation were a constant reminder of Christ in all persons. And reminded me to be patient, too. 

Lynne, a pastor from Canada, who amidst a conversation about the hymns in the Abbey, introduced me to a treasure trove of new music. 

Gretchen, a priest on Sabbatical, who joined us for dinner last evening.  
And so it goes. 

So many prayers for traveling mercies especially in these storms.  God has given me a cozy chair, a warm, dry room, and a cappuccino. I have a friend with which to travel, and all is well. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Pilgrimage to Iona: A windy, blustery, rainy day

Yesterday my fitbit registered just under 25000 steps. Today not so much. 

The wind blew all day at 30-50 miles per hour, and it rained off and on. The big hikes planned for today had to be cancelled. 

My best friend and I still walked to the Abbey for Coomunion this morning and for the quiet service tonight that included centering prayer followed by Taize in the apse by candlelight. In the silence of worship the wind howled and moaned. Yet there was peace and safety in those stone walls, and a sure sense of Christ's protection in care. 

It turned out to be a true Sabbath for this lady priest. 

Leisurely breakfast on the sun porch 
(minus the sun). 

Cappacinos and flapjack after worship.       

An afternoon writing postcards and knitting with yarn from local sheep while drinking tea and sitting in front of the fire.     
And I still got 10,000+ steps!

Pilgrimage to Iona: An afternoon at St. Columba's Bay

At St. Columba's Bay, you can walk a labyrinth created by women on a pilgrimage years ago and lovingly tended by a woman who lives in Iona. 

Look for rock treasures. 

Eat a picnic of local bread and cheese while looking at the sea. 

Pray.  Sing.
Read Scripture and devotionals. 


Be full of joy for the journey.