Iona: Last Moments…

Stewart sent me another song he remembered from his childhood. I am starting to think that Scots have something against grannies…

“Ma grannie’s in the cellar
I’m surprised ye cannie smell her
bakin’ biscuits on her dand old dirty stove
In her eye there is some matter
it keeps drippin’ in the batter
and she whistles while the snot runs doon her nose
Give me that home cookin’, home cookin’
she whistles while the snot runs doon her nose.”

Are ya getting a feel for Scottish humour yet?

I have a correction to make.  After speaking to Iona (Ayla’s mom), I found out that the Act I spoke of as the “Open Pastures Act” is actually called the “Right to Roam”.  I’ve been reflecting more on this piece of legislature and thinking about it on a larger scale in terms of what it means about Scottish culture.  Freedom is innate to the Scottish psyche, it seems.  Perhaps this comes from centuries of English rule and having to fight for the independence they now have as a separate country.  Scottish people are generous with their resources and their time; they will do anything to help others out.  The Act also mirrors that endearing aspect of the culture.

Compline (evening prayers) at the Bishop’s House (pictured above) was not exactly the same as it is in Vancouver, to say the least.  I had never been in an Episcopal Church before.  I was the youngest one there and the old folks seemed thrilled with new “blood.”  Most visitors go to the Abbey.  The preacher was pretty intense- fire and brimstone and you must resist the devil’s workings sort of stuff.  He asked for protection for all the Christians out there who are being persecuted for standing firm in their faith.  I sat there thinking of all the persecution Christians have participated in/are participating in- including the colonization of millions of indigenous peoples around the world and I found it telling that there were no prayers said for the other side of that story.  The last residential school in BC only closed down in 1985.  Over a century, millions of First Nations children were stolen from their parents and sent to these schools where they were indoctrinated in so-called Christian values.  They were beaten for speaking their traditional languages and for carrying on with their traditional ceremonies and ways of life.  Needless to say, there was no music to be found in this service- an apt metaphor for how soul draining this brand of religion can be.  Luckily, the service was only 20 minutes and I high-tailed it outta there as soon as the last word was uttered and quickly walked through sheep pastures deftly dodging poo piles to get to the Abbey in time for their service.  Now I know why the Episcopals ain’t exactly attracting the younger generation here on Iona!

I really resonate with the Abbey’s approach to worship.

ecumenical |ˌekyəˈmenikəl|


representing a number of different Christian churches See note at universal .

• promoting or relating to unity among the world’s Christian churches : ecumenical dialogue.

They are ecumenical and very inclusive of all religions.  When I got there, they were still preparing for the service and I started scoping out a non-conspicuous place to sit.  Almost immediately, a Sri Lankan man I met the other day who is participating in the program at the Abbey ushered me to the choir stalls telling me that I am a singer and that is where I belong.  I was kind of mystified but I know better than to balk at a poke from Spirit.  So I agreed and took my seat among the other singers who had all these songs learned from their time at the Abbey.  Some of them remembered me from the ceilidh the other night and plunked sheet music into my hands.  Luckily, I am a quick study from decades singing in choirs and so off I went.  We went through each of the songs once and then the service started.  The songs were moving, earth-based, and inclusive.  We even sang an African song. I sang my heart out loud and clear and the others did too.  I sent up prayers of gratitude for my time here on Iona and all the magic I’ve experienced. I walked back to the hostel at 11:30 pm just as the sun was setting in the pink and purple sky.

It turns out the Atlantic is not as cold as I’d heard everyone saying- maybe because my Canadian blood is used to glacial lakes, rivers, and the cold Pacific Ocean. I would have stayed in longer if it weren’t for the strong undertow of the beach I was at. I sunned myself in my bathing suit until the wind dried me off. I went to bed a happy woman smelling and tasting of ocean.

Today is my last day on Iona and although part of me is sad to leave, another part of me is looking forward to my next adventures.  I have three fairly long days of travel to get to the island of Lewis.  I have a theory that there are two main types of travelers (although this is probably really simplistic and you are welcome to chime in here with your comments).  The first type like to remain on the move and see as much as they can.  The second type like to stay in a place for a while and really get to know the people, the land, and the culture in that place.  I am discovering that I fit into the latter category.  I seem to get the most out of traveling when I can stay in a place for a few days.  However, I am also finding that these fast and dirty trips through towns and cities have their own magic where I often stumble on things I would not see or find if I were planning more carefully.  I wonder what other adventures await….

Tomorrow, I head for Fort William.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bella
    Jul 09, 2010 @ 22:58:26

    this is such a great blog- great photos, wonderfully written… I feel like I’m travelling with you! I look forward to reading more:)
    Happy Travels


  2. jenniferengracio
    Aug 07, 2010 @ 17:50:36

    Thanks, Bella. I am glad you are enjoying it!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: