|Iona is the island to the extreme left.|
It's quite a trip from Oban to Iona.
You've got to take a 90 minute ferry to the the Isle of Mull, drive an hour or so across the Mull on a one lane road with two-way traffic - and most folk driving on that road don't know the meaning of S.L.O.W.
Our coach also didn't have any heat and it never really got above 9 degrees Celsius all day. And, it was raining. Well, it varied from annoying drizzle to pouring down rain. And the driver's defrosters didn't work.
Did I mention the wind? No? Well, that made for a ferry ride that was rather . . . . interesting.
After we drove through Mull we had to catch another ferry over to Iona - only about a 10 minute ride, but by then it was pouring down rain and windy.
Once we got off the boat, we had to wait for someone from St. Columba's Hotel to come fetch our luggage.
Well, two of us did. Outside. In the rain. And the wind.
|One of the glacial island leaving Oban to the Isle of Mull|
I'm not sure what this all means, actually. And, because we're on pilgrimage, everything is supposed to take on some significant, symbolic, magical meaning.
Because, after all, we're in a "thin place".
Someone suggested that our will to be here is being tested.
I don't know about that but I checked the weather record in this part of the world at this time of year and it seems like this is pretty much what happens.
So, between the rain and the fog, the wind and the bone-chilling cold, I didn't get that "magical, thin-place" feeling everyone talks about when they first land on the shores of Iona.
The feeling I got was more like the urgent need to get my wet clothes off my body and get my body into a hot shower and then into some warm clothing and then in front of the fireplace with a hot cup of tea.
Which, I admit, did have a magic all its own.
We had a bit of a gathering before supper - just a few bits of information we'll need while we're here - and then it was off to a lovely supper. The food here is excellent and the portions are perfect.
I confess, I couldn't bear the thought of walking out in the rain to the Abbey for prayer. Or, for that matter, Bishop's House for Compline.
I really just started feeling warm and human about 30 minutes ago.
My prayers have been answered and I have sent prayers of deep gratitude for warmth and heat, food and liquid, a comfortable bed and a lovely shower in a warm room with a great view.
I mean, seriously, what more can I say to God and the Cosmos that isn't already known?
Tomorrow's day begins at 8 AM. Mass over at the Abbey is at 10:30. I'm looking forward to an Ecumenical Eucharist. I've read the Iona liturgies but I've never experienced one. I'm glad I have read them so that I can just go and immerse myself in the experience.
It's supposed to rain off and on again tomorrow but then the forecast for the rest of the week looks pretty clear.
|The view from my bedroom. That's Bishop's House. And, beyond, Iona Sound|
I am sooOOOoo glad I brought a thick sweater.
I'm going to go check out a wool shawl this week. I saw some in one of the shops in town for 12.00 pounds. That might be for a children's size - if I can get one for double that amount it will still be worth it - but it's worth my going in to check it out anyway.
I'm really excited to know from one of the locals that, despite the wretched weather, we're here at just the right time.
"Nevah minde tha rrrrain," he said. "Tha Puffins is here. Saw 'em meself this mornin'. Come see me Monday mornin' and I'll take ye there."
I understand that when you see one up close, it's like watching a stuffed animal come to life.
It's an answer to a prayer. Well, one of them, anyway.
I canna wait!