J2A Greece Pilgrimage 2008

Friday, July 27, 2007

A mountain top experience

Written entry by Virginia Parker follows images

The indigenous flock that shares the land around our hostel

St. Martin's Cross in front of Iona Abbey

Views from the top of Dun I

“Come on all you people, come on all you people, come on all to praise the Lord”

The day began with an excellent breakfast from Team Thursday. This amazing team consisted of Cadell, Kathy, Rob, and me. We made French toast, cheese eggs, bread, and pork and leek sausage. After that amazing breakfast we headed to the Abbey for a small service run by Rob. It was in the same small peaceful chapel that it was in yesterday. Then afterward we headed to our own place somewhere between the Abbey and the ruins of the nunnery. We had an hour to contemplate, draw, or read. It is easy to think on a place as glorious as Iona. Even if a gray cloud covers up the powder blue sky it is still gorgeous, enough to stop you from breathing. I felt myself at times just pausing in my reading, thinking, or drawing to think about how lucky and fortunate I am to be in a place like Iona. There is no other place on the world like it. All you have to do is look at the water an you know that you are in some place special.
After our hour was up team Thursday had to go make lunch. We got very creative with what was left in the refrigerator. We had a smorgasborg. Rob made some amazing couscous. I made tuna salad. Cadell arranged the sandwich meats. We also had left over “Cock-a-Leekie” from Wonderful Wednesday and salad that one of the hostel workers, Jenny, had made the night before. We then had an hour to ourselves. All of the youth went down to the beach to collect pebbles. It was not any random pebble collection, but we were only looking for just six. The six that we felt shaped the personality of our astonishing teachers and Laurie and Rob. It did not take us long to find them, about seven minutes. We then headed to the Iona Community Gift Shop where we bought them all wooden Celtic cross key chains.
We then took a tour of the Abbey. It was very intersting because we have been worshiping in that space every night but there we learned what we would have never found out had we not taken the tour. All week I had wondered what these stones hung up all over the wall were. we learned that they were grave stones. We also learned that where ever you see a cross carved into the floor, that was where a grave there at one time. We had a look in the Abbey Museum as well where there is thought to be Saint Columba's pillow. After we headed back to the gift shop to do a little shopping of our own. Then we turned to face Dun I, the tallest point on Iona. It was a steep climb but we did it a little bit of “umph” and a lot of will power. At the top you were able to see all the majority of the island. The view was electrifying. If I had more time I would explain it in full detail. But I am afraid that if I tried to describe it I would do it such an injustice because there are no words that exist that can do it justice. On top some people went off by themselves while others stayed together. There was a cairn on top that some of us added a stone to. The majority of us then made our way down what we thought was the hard path. It turned out that it was not a path at all so we made our own. We were pioneers on a wild land, well sort of. We got to a spot where we had to make a decision as to which way to go, on the beach or around the fences. A crossroads if you will, and there was a little quarrel as to which way we should take. We got back to the hostel, Cadell and I went to cooking while the others read or showered.
After dinner we headed to the Abbey. The service that night was the Eucharist. The youth sat around this large table and the adults sat else where. It was almost metaphorical how the adults had left the kids for us to explore or spirituality with their watching us. It was really wonderful to be at the head of the table with everyone else around us. After the service we gave out some final gifts to people that we had met while we were on the island. We made some tea, something that we have done a lot of, and sat down to play a game of hot seat. It was almost surprising how fast and truthfully people answered their questions. These were deep questions like why do you go to church? We would have not been able to answer the questions that easily and honestly as we did earlier in the week; I guess Rob knew that and that is why we did it then. Afterwards we gave out the pebbles that we had found and went to bed.
-Virginia Parker


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