A Trip to Iona (1)

The first of several descriptions of a trip to Scotland and England that was in some ways a restless spiritual pilgrimage, more so than my trip to Glastonbury and other places last year.


On Monday April 12, 2003, I realize that I want to go to Iona. I look for people to come with me, but no one can. I decide to go anyway, and within days I have the trip planned. I will fly to Glasgow, spend a day and a half with Robert Clarke in England, fly to Aberdeen to spend a couple of days with Michael Ross, then go to Iona for four days and five nights, then visit Ronald and Jill Russell for a couple of days. It seems a lot of moving around, but manageable.

On Friday, May 23rd, I write in my journal: “Dion Fortune read a passage referring to the Brotherhood, and her whole being responded. For ten days she could think of nothing else but her desire to serve. Then came a vision, and her whole life was changed. May I not strive for something like that on Iona? May I not earnestly pray to be of service? Have I anything else in life I desire? I have not.” 

The following Friday, the 30th, I pick up a few hundred English pounds from my bank, borrow a backpack, and that night I pack everything except for last-minute things. (What’s the weather going to be like? Should I bring a winter coat? Surely not, in June, even in Scotland! I settle for packing in layers. Besides my short coat, a sweater and sweatshirt, a warm woolen jacket-like thing, a flannel shirt and two dress shirts, a pair of blue jeans, a pair of good pants and – in an unwarranted burst of optimism – a pair of shorts.) I spend the weekend wondering if four days on Iona will bore me. For reading material, I choose, after some hesitation, The Lives of the Saints (Brendan, Cuthbert and Wilfred), and The Cloud of Unknowing and The Book of Privy Counseling. Both books are small, lightweight, and likely to match my mood. 

Wednesday morning, June 4, a Greyhound bus to Dulles airport. I begin snoozing as soon as the bus starts at 9 a.m., figuring it will be long hours before I get to sleep in a bed again.

And then I am at Dulles airport at 11:20 a.m., with my flight to Newark scheduled to leave at 5 p.m. (Greyhound only has one bus to Dulles from C’ville.) I have a piece of pizza and go up to the check-in desk. The woman there advises me to get onto their 1 p.m. to Newark, saying that they are experiencing weather delays all up and down the east coast, and it would be better for me to be in Newark waiting than in Dulles.  

Good thinking. As it is, the 1 p.m. doesn’t get off the runway until 2 p.m.. Then up out of the grey clouds into the bright blue sky, and 35 minutes later back down into the same grey overcast we’d left, one short hop closer to my scheduled 8:35 departure for Scotland. Continue reading A Trip to Iona (1)