Tuesday, June 4, 2013


   Once the longing has had time to ferment in your heart it is time to form your intention....to make real the initial calling that may have been with you for weeks or even years. It means much more than booking your hotel and buying you plane tickets.

     This might seem obvious, that at some point you have to make known your intention of making this trip but this simple act is, in fact, an important threshold moment for the pilgrim.  It is no longer a dream and you are inviting others into your journey.

Pilgrim on the Campostello
   For me, it begins with voicing my intention to friends and family, "I'm going on a trip to Iona..."  This is usually followed by, "You're going where?"  No matter, I can now verbalize my thoughts...they come out of my journal and into the world and I want to share my excitement.  This is a very important moment and I usually celebrate it in some small way.

   This is also the time that I begin to pack my scrip...metaphorically speaking of course. I pack my scrip by reading, books, poetry, myths and legends, and by listening to music or the spoken word in the language of the country I'm visiting.  I've already read several books on Iona including a couple of lovely memoirs and I love to listen to Gaelic songs and poems although I don't speak the language.  It is the sounds and rhythms of the culture that interest me. It is training my ear and building delicate connections to the place of my longing.

   The internet is a great place to go looking for inspiration.  There is bound to be a YouTube video you can watch and it was while I was trolling for inspiration on Iona that I came across Waymarkers, the Mary DeJong book/journal of Iona.  That will surely go with me when I make my trip next year.

   The pilgrim's heart  embraces, fully, the place they will visit.  They will, in fact, "visit" it continually in the weeks or months prior to the trip.  To come to know a place before traveling to it is like tilling the soil prior to planting. Oh, yes, you can throw seeds on unturned ground and you may even get an odd plant or two to sprout but you will be blessed with a far greater harvest if you carefully prepare the soil first.

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