Iona: Open Pastures Act

Last night was pretty wild.  I first went to the Abbey for their 9 pm mass, which I will tell you about more tomorrow.  Then I went to a local ceilidh (pronounced KAY-lee), which is traditional Scottish dancing.  There were a lot of tourists there who’d obviously never danced before.  The atmosphere at first was tense.  I could tell people were nervous despite the caller cracking jokes and trying to put people at ease.  After the first dance, she asked if anyone wanted to come up and offer a poem, a dance, or anything else to give us a breather from the dancing, which tends to whip us into a sweat pretty fast.  I went up and led a Celtic Prayer song I know called “May the Long Time Sun”:

May the long time sun shine upon you

All love surround you

And the bright light within you

Guide your way home.

The whole room was singing and people seemed grateful for something to unite them and relieve the stress of learning new dance moves.  It seemed we were then freer to dance the night away.  I have attached a video clip of the dancers so you can get a feel for what one of these is like.  For those of you Canadians that went to school and did Square Dancing, it is VERY similar.  They even did dances last night that I already knew from school like Strip the Willow and the Canadian Barn Dance.  After it was over, I walked back at twilight (around midnight) with the other dancers talking to an English gentleman and his wife who were here staying at the Abbey to learn more about restorative justice.  We had a fascinating conversation and I was inspired that a gentleman who was easily in his eighties was so passionate about life and learning as it seems rare to find elders in such a state at that age.  I wanna be like that when I am his age.

Doris, I’ve thought of you a lot since getting here.  On the bus, there were a lot of Austrians, which I immediately recognized by their expressions and the way they spoke German.  The two ladies in front of me reminded me of your Mama and Tante Maria as they talked.  I can tell the Austrians on Iona because they are walking with poles like they do when they are hiking the Alps and they always give me a smile with a twinkle in their eye the way your Mama does.  Memories of our time together in Austria have been coming back as I roam the hills here on Iona.

I discovered the other day that Scotland passed a law at the national level called the Open Pastures Act.  Under this law, pedestrians are allowed to walk wherever they like on open pasture without the owners’ permission.  So I have spent some time getting to know the local sheep, horses, and cows.  I love roaming around amongst these placid animals.  Something of a feeling of comfort comes over me that I can’t quite describe. I learned quickly to watch where I was putting my feet.  You think YOU have had big poos sometimes!  Check this out (I put my camera case down beside it just so you could get a feel for how HUGE a cow’s business is):

Each time I walk home, two chickens that do not seem to wander far from home but like to check me out greet me.  I could get used to this country living, I think.

I also went to Iona Abbey for the first visit today.  I spent some time praying in St. Oran’s chapel (pictured here among the tombstones) where I was surrounded by swallows that ducked in and around my head as I kneeled.  In shamanic medicine, swallows symbolize how love and communication paired with trust can do the most good.  It teaches how to think quickly, act appropriately, and use the power of thoughts to manifest ideals.  Interestingly, this was a big part of what I was praying for.  As I sent up those prayers, I had faith that they were already being answered somehow.  Thank you swallows.  Now you see what they mean by the magic of Iona?

In other news, I am officially an aunt for the second time.  On June 30, my sister (Tania) and Mark had a baby girl named Sophie Isabelle Engracio Levesque.  Here she is fresh from Spirit.  Welcome, little one.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Doris
    Jul 06, 2010 @ 21:28:23

    Hi Jen… thank you for thinking of me. I think of you every day and hope you are safe – love reading your adventures..ttys


  2. Debbie Dumaresq
    Jul 07, 2010 @ 09:27:14

    Yes, poop aside, very magical!


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