We’re now approaching the fourth and last pilgrimage to the Scottish Isles this summer. It has been such a wonderful experience, I loved everyone who came, we prayed together, we walked together, we discovered amazing places together. We even discovered things about ourselves together – some times good things, other times not so good; but that is irrelevant. We now know more about ourselves, our strengths and our weaknesses, so we may actually do something about it. After all, this is the real benefits of a true pilgrimage: a bit more knowledge, a bit more clarity about who we are and the direction of our lives.
Tomorrow, the last group of pilgrims will meet in Glasgow airport and we’ll be finding our way to Oban, then to the Isle of Mull by ferry. I put so much work into organising these pilgrimages, and they take so much of me, I thought I would be happy to get to the end of this summer. But the truth is that I am not. I had got used to returning to the Isles every other week; I got used to seeing our Monastery church; I got used to saying my prayers looking at the heights of Mull; I got used to celebrating the Divine Liturgy in St Oran’s Chapel on Iona, surrounded by the graveyards of all monastics who lived on this holy island since St Columba’s time; I got used to finding a quiet place on the beaches of St Brendan’s Isle and let prayer take over me; I got used to reciting St Patrick’s Breastplate in the caves on Inch Kenneth.
I shall miss all of this. I shall miss waking up early in the morning and going straight into the Divine Liturgy, as we do in our simple, improvised chapel. I shall miss the gentle rhythm of the Celtic Blessings we read every evening. I shall even miss the late, late walks I sometimes take with one pilgrim of another, talking our hearts out.
Once this last pilgrimage is over, I’ll go back to fundraising, because the aim of all this work is to finish building our Monastery. Once again, I’m going back to doing something I dread; once again, I somehow manage to go through it because of the wonderful people God sends my way.
It has been a wonderful, spiritual summer. I’m already looking forward to the pilgrimages next summer. Thank you all: for your prayer and for your love for this Monastery.