On my last day on Iona the sun came out, the wind calmed down. The sun opened up a joyful spirit that just wasn’t present among the wind and rain when I first arrived. On my last day I enjoyed some fish ’n chaps at the local pub overlooking the bay between Iona and Mull where the ferry goes back and forth.
The visit was too short, but perhaps it helped me appreciate the time I did have, the NOW. My afternoon walk kept me in the moment; every step taken in the NOW.
This afternoon I was sitting in St.Oran's Chapel (known for outstanding acoustics), wondering about the purpose in my life. A young woman came in and asked me if it would be alright for her to sing; I raised my hands in gratitude. She faced the altar, looked up, and sang Dona Nobis Pacem—an angel voice. A mother bird flew about and then settled on her nest above the candles, the one that I had just lit for you. Amazing grace. After she left, I stayed in the chapel for a while and prayed peace for everyone who came in. I ‘heard’ that that was what I’m supposed to be doing with my life right now. Quite the right thing for someone who loves silence, solitude and simplicity!
Not the most sunny weather I’ve ever experience on Iona. In fact, no sun but rain, on and off. One minute is pours, the next walking without and umbrella becomes an option.
Yesterday I took one of those moments and walked to the machair, the public land by the on the way to Columba’s Bay. Last time I was here, in 2017, I stopped in at a little craft and yarn shop in the garage of one of the cottages. It’s closed now, but as I walked by, Val, the owner came out to attend to a new project—raising money for Ukraine—selling little Iona stones for 50 pence each. As of July 15 she has raised 417.87 pounds.
“You know,” she told me, “ there are so many suffering people in the world. Africa depends on the grain grown in the Ukraine. We all have to do our little bit.”
Really, it’s only been two days since I headed to Logan Airport to begin my journey to Iona. I wrote that I’d see you when I got there, and now, I’m here.
I left 90 degree sun to chilling wind and rain here on the island. What was I thinking when I packed one light cotton sweater? That’s the way with traveling. We read the forecasts, imagine what we are being told, and then ignore it all and pack for the present.
Here’s a quick travel summary; easy and uneventful! Logan was busy, but everything moved along with ease. I learned that if I had checked in on line, and didn’t have a bag to check, I could go right to security. At the gate the Aer Lingus representative gave me a printed boarding pass. Dublin Airport transfer to my 45 minute flight to Glasgow and the flight itself ‘happened’. The ‘traditional Scottish breakfast at the airport before the bus to Oban satisfied my hunger, although without question the use of the microwave has changed my meaning of traditional!
Without exaggeration, I’ve taken the two hour plus drive from Glasgow to Oban at least fifteen times. I used to drive it, and once I took the train, but recently it’s been the bus. Oban is the go-to town for people living along the mid section Scottish west coast and for travelers like me heading to Mull and Iona. Caledonian MacBrayne, Hebredian and Clyde Ferries is vital to the life of those on the mainland and the islands.
In Oban I wandered about, took a short nap at my B & B, had the most yummy fish ’n chips available in Scotland, and went to bed early. Up at 6AM to catch the 7:25 ferry to Mull, to catch the 8:25 bus for the hour-plus ride across Mull, to ever-waiting ferry at Fionnphort to take me on the minute ride to Iona. Whew! Now, I’m here.
The abby is still peaceful; the soup and sandwich at the Argyll Hotel is still homemade; the ferry is still going back and forth. The wind and rain are still having their time, as is the case on Iona, but that will change. I still love it here no matter what.
I’m off to Iona today, yes the Isle of Iona, Scotland. I had planned a week In Edinburgh but that just wasn’t going to work, so I arranged to change my airline reservation of a very small fee, so off I go. I know the travel routine well: Fly Boston-Dublin-Glasgow; bus to Oban; overnight in Oban; ferry, bus, ferry to Iona; walk to my hotel.
I’ll see you when I get there.
You are not alone because when you walk you soon become two. Especially after walking for a long time. What I mean is that even when I am alone, there is always dialogue between body and soul (p. 56).
I walk every day; I’ve been doing so for years.. For the past three mornings, however, thanks to wisdom of Frederic Gros, author of A Philosophy of Walking, I’ve set out with one ascendent purpose: the unity of body and soul. Yesterday, I walked longer and further than usual—I didn’t plan it; it just happened. I walked at my usual rate, no change in speed, but my body and soul walked together, hand in hand. We weren’t in a hurry. Only the present moment was before me.
One way to appreciate solitude is to have peace and quiet after social event. Remember the story of the farmer’s wife who complained about the noise their one dog made in the farmhouse? So the farmer brought in all the farm animals , who of course filled the house with constant noice. The wife continued to complain. Then each day her husband took one animal back to the barn, until only their dog remained. The wife had no noise to complain about. And the lived happily ever after.
We enjoyed three days of July 4th festivities at our house. Grandchildren sleeping over, three dogs to pick up the crumbs, family coming and going, the parade, many meals. Now all is quiet here. This farmer’s wife notices and appreciates it, but looks forward to a full house again.
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