a priest's musings on the journey

Monday, March 31, 2008

Day 5 Pilgrimage to Iona

Today was our last day on Iona. All that I had heard about the mystical quality of the "thin places" on this island are true, and I struggle with the idea of leaving and returning to life as it had been. There was something so attractive about the these days- not only the solitude and beauty of the island and a more intense awareness of my participation in the Communion of Saints, but the simplicity of living. I had lived these days unplugged from television, the cell phone and internet. All of these things were available to me if I needed them, but I was able to be free from them as well. Even mealtime was more sacred, surely because we prepared our food and ate in community - lingering over the table chatting and playing cards- but our meals were the produced from the most basic elements of the earth: bread, cheese, simple soups, a tomato sauce and pasta, yogurt... nothing fancy, no fine culinary genius at work, but holy and truly wonderful. The time of my departure left me wondering how I could find space in my life to create solitude and simplicity. How could I train myself to notice the thin places in my normal life in the "real world".

Before leaving, we discovered the Infirmary museum, that housed the original St Oran's Cross, St John's Cross and fragments of St Matthew's Cross. The original St Martin's Cross still stands near the abbey, but the crosses in the museum had fallen and are in the process of being restored. Of course being a good catholic, I could not leave that place without venerating those crosses and touching St Columba's pillow. I lingered as long as I good with those relics and enjoyed a sense of the presence of those who had served God on that island in ages past- and then it was time to board the ferry and head back to Glasgow.

The evening in Glasgow was particularly pleasant, as I had the privilege of having drinks and chat with Kelvin Holdsworth- the Provost of St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow- whom I've enjoyed corresponding with via his blog and facebook. Do visit his blog, and when in Glasgow, drop by St Mary's. There doing some great ministry there and you'll be warmly received.

One final random note: While on Iona I lost my wallet. Everyone in the shops and the abbey were so helpful and kind in trying to help me locate it. However, one of the employee's of the Finlay Ross General Store was particularly helpful. She made telephone calls for me went to the post office to enquire whether or not someone had found it and returned it there. I regret I do not know her name, but I am grateful for her kindness and assistance. Drop in to the general store when you visit Iona and thank them for going the extra mile for a stranger. (by the way, a few days ago I received an email saying my wallet had been found. It had fallen in a box in one of the stores and was discovered when an employee was cleaning. Of course I've already replaced all of my cards and driver's license. LOL )

:: posted by Padre Rob+, 3:44 PM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Go Davidson!!

If it can't be Duke... then it's gotta be Davidson....
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 11:32 AM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Let's make earth hour - earth lifetime

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that an hour without electricity has raised awareness to the problem of climate change and our impact on the earth and its resources. But if that's all one does, what is the point? So what... you ate dinner by candlelight tonight. Did you consider where that food came from and what impact it had on the earth to get it to your table? I'd rather see a person make a commitment to buying more locally grown, organic vegetables or even planting an organic garden in their yard (or even on their patio.) So you turned the lights out for an hour... and then at 9:00, what happened? I'd love to see people not using lights at all so much throughout the day: one could supplement lights with solar lamps and certainly switch to energy efficient bulbs.

I don't mean to have such a preachy tone- I get to do that tomorrow morning at Mass ;)- but empty gestures rooted in political correctness do little if one is not willing to make small changes that can really make a difference. A good first step for everyone is to take a short quiz to discover what their carbon footprint is and what impact they as an individual are having on the earth and its resources. To take the quiz click here. To learn more about how to reduce your carbon footprint check out these websites...

worn again

A very insightful article on praying to the earth and making changes as a spiritual discipline can be found ,here

Be a gardener.

Dig a ditch,

toil and sweat,

and turn the earth upside down

and seek the deepness

and water the plants in time.

Continue this labor

and make sweet floods to run

and noble and abundant fruits

to spring.

Take this food and drink

and carry it to God

as your true worship.

- Blessed Julian of Norwich
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 7:46 PM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Day 4 PIlgrimage

Today it rained, and rained, and rained.... and rained. There were some moments when the clouds cleared, but the wind was so strong that we had to stay indoors most of the day. We all curled up in the hostel around the fire reading, chatting, and playing cards. All in all not a bad way to spend a day ;)

We were able to leave the hostel briefly in the morning to celebrate the Holy Eucharist at St. Columba's Chapel in the Bishop's House (a retreat house of the Scottish Episcopal Church). It was an honor to be able to say Mass there and to use the <1982 Liturgy of the Scottish Episcopal Church (don't tell anyone, but it's an improvement on the 1979 US Prayer Book). Many thanks to the warden of the bishop's house for her hospitality to us.

That evening two of us decided to brave the wind and walk down to the abbey for evening prayer. It was such a spiritual moment to sit in that abbey and listen to the wind howl through the stones. My mind wondered how many monks had sat there at prayer listening to the same wind blow across the island. My soul mused upon the character of the Holy Spirit- who was experienced by the Blessed Virgin Mary and the early disciples as a mighty, rushing, wind.

After prayer, a woman who was staying in the hostel with us asked me if I would bless her rosaries on the altar in the abbey *GRINS*. I was humbled to stand behind the altar and bless the rosaries- I could almost feel the saints who had stood in that holy place praying with me. What a spiritual high for me.

(more pics to come)
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 5:45 PM | link | 3 comments |

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Day 3 Pilgrimage to Iona...

This morning we worshiped with the Iona Community, beginning morning prayers in the St Michael Chapel, and processing to the Abbey for the beginning of Spring worship in the Abbey. After the service, we were invited to remain in the abbey and explore and pray. I sat in the choir and soaked in the holiness of the place, wondering about all of those holy people of God who had prayed on that holy ground in ages past- and all of the people of God who gather there today to continue in the tradition of prayer and service.

After our private time in the chapel, we went to Spar and bought food. We decided to buy community food that all could share, and we agreed that each would take a part in preparing the meal or cleaning up afterwards. We each grabbed a bag and walked the mile journey to the hostel- thankful for the crisp, sunny morning- and prepared a picnic on a rock. It was during our lunch that one of the students began to share an epiphany she had discovered in the hotel in Glasgow. Because her shower wouldn't work, she decided to take a bath, and as she sank under the water she could hear her heartbeat- and in those waters she began to consider the connection with water and life. She realized the sanctity of water, and understood why so many religions used water in their rituals because of the power it conveys.

She thought of her baptism- and she remembered the Muslim practice of taking a ritual bath before beginning a pilgrimage- and she was grateful that her broken shower forced her to take a bath. So, as she washed her body, she prayed and asked the Spirit to make her heart clean and to prepare her for what gifts God would offer her on this pilgrimage.

The afternoon was spent in private prayer, and as it was a sunny afternoon, I took my journal and headed for a hike to the southern side of the island- since I hear God more clearly outdoors, I was eager to amble around the thin places of Iona and listen.... I walked and climbed on top of a rock which allowed me to see the vast sea, the ancient rocks and the rolling green Iona hills, and I sat... offered a prayer of thanksgiving, took up my pen and started to write- what ended up being a hymn of praise for the creation.... (maybe I'll share it later- but for now it's just for me).

:: posted by Padre Rob+, 6:25 PM | link | 1 comments |

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Day 2- Pilgrimage to Glasgow-Iona-Lindisfarne

Today was a travel day. The coach met us at our hotel in central Glasgow in the morning to drive us to Oban, where we were to catch the ferry to Craignure- then take a bus to Fionnphort, where we would catch a ferry to Iona. Because of high winds the Fionnphort ferry to Iona had been cancelled earlier, and an unexpected snow worried the driver that the road might be closed en route to Oban. However, after a few calls the driver believed we could make it to Oban with no problem and that the ferry to Iona would run. And indeed, we had a safe and beautiful drive to Oban, where we boarded the ferry and enjoyed a beautiful trip to Craignure. //
We exited the ferry to discover that the bus to Fionnphort had left us- and to make things worse that was the last bus of the day, and the ferry to Iona scheduled to leave in an hour was also the last ferry of the day. I was about to call a taxi when two women came up to us and asked if we needed help. We expalined our problem and she mentioned that her brother-in-law had a minibus and he could drive us to Fionnphort for 80 pounds. It seemed like we had no choice, so we hired the minibus. and the driver called the ferry to see if it would wait for us. The ferry driver agreed to wait 10 minutes, and our coach driver began to race across the Isle of Mull in order to get us to the terminal in time. There were a few moments when I thought we were going to plunge into the sea, and a few sheep and chickens narrowly escaped an untimely end... but he got us to the terminal in 40 minutes.... a drive that should have taken an hour mind you... ;)

We arrived on Iona in darkness... hungry and ready to eat. We knew that we would have to get groceries and prepare our own dinner- so we sent a few on to the hostel with the baggage, and the rest of us walked to the Spar to buy groceries- only to find that it had closed at 3 PM, and that all of the restaraunts had closed. Some of us had bought shortbread and crisps at the The Green Welly en route, and a few others had brought snacks from the States- so we combined all of our snacks together and *enjoyed* a rather unusual supper- and an even better lesson in sharing bread and offering thanks that our hunger was only temporary, unlike thousands who spend all of their days hungry and without food and potable water. We offered our hunger and dismay to God as a prayer that we would not forget how our stomachs felt as they rumbled, so that thsoe hunger pangs would remind us to work to eradicate poverty and hunger in our community and throughout the world.

:: posted by Padre Rob+, 9:41 PM | link | 3 comments |

Day 1 Pilgrimage to Glasgow-Iona-Lindisfarne

On Sunday the 3rd of March, some of the students in the UMW Canterbury Club began our pilgrimage by attending the Choral EvenSong at St Mary's Scottish Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow. It was an especially glorious evening because it was Mothering Sunday and also a Diocesan EvenSong in which many choirs from the diocese had gathered to join in praise. They were truly magnificent- and most impressive to me was the inclusion of the newly formed children's choir at the cathedral- a children's choir that sings classical Anglican music, not that happy-clappy dumbed down liturgy crap... It was such a delight to see them standing with the adults and singing (from their hearts mind you) the canticles and anthems.

It was an equal treat to hear Bishop Idris preach on the mothering nature of God and
our call to be like God as mothering nurturers of the creation. Both the Canterbury students and I were impressed and encouraged by his prophetic words to care for our world. However, as good as his words were, I was hoping to hear the Provost- Kelvin- whom I have enjoyed corresponding with on the blogisphere- preach. I will have to save that treat for another visit. For now, I offer my thanks to Kelvin for his hospitality and graciousness. If you are ever in Galsgow, please drop by St. Mary's for a visit.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 11:11 AM | link | 3 comments |

Saturday, March 01, 2008

off to iona and lindisfarne

for pilgrimage and retreat with the canterbury club.... refelctions and photos to follow.........
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 8:17 AM | link | 1 comments |