Thursday, October 15, 2009

Journey into the Mystery

I am still drifting along in the jet lag two days after my return from Scotland. This was a wonderful journey into the mystery.

First there was a week on Iona, living in Grianan House with six other women and exploring both the island and the bookshelves of this home which Lucy Bruce built in 1930 as a gathering place for women who sought peace. Each evening, we would gather for dinner and circle, reading from Lucy's book When I Consider the Heavens. Like her, we explored diverse spiritual traditions and sought to weave these together with our felt experiences of the spiritual truths embodied by this ancient land. We walked for hours, climbing to the top of Dun I and to the rocky shores of Columba Bay. We collected pounds of beautiful Iona stones and invited wonderful women to join us for tea in front of the coal fire. Our conversations danced through many layers of lore and meaning. And we ate scones and clotted cream as often as we could.

And then we traveled on to Roslin, the small village outside of Edinburgh which is home to Rosslyn Chapel. We heard the delightful story, told by the local people who love and tend this remarkable landmark, who were unaware of Dan Brown's book The DaVince Code and were unprepared when the number of visitors suddenly multiplied from a handful to hundreds each day. The chapel is a feast of images and symbols, history and mysteries carved in stone. Because we stayed in a local hotel just a short walk away, we were able to visit often and come to know the rhythms of this place. Attending a service in the chapel on Sunday morning (this is also a functioning Anglican church), we experienced the juxtaposition of children playing games in the shelter of the ancient intricate stonework and witnessed the community celebration of a baptism. Sitting in the autumn sunshine later on a bench just outside, with the local cat William purring on my lap, I could feel the chapel stones telling their stories in my bones.

So many stories: legends of Freemasons and Knights Templar, of secrets buried beneath the chapel, of a voyage to North America made a century before Columbus, of links to the Arthur legends and the Holy Grail, of the intricate dance between the ancient spiritual roots of this land and the Christian structures that were laid down upon those roots.

The words came to me as a group of us circled in the crypt: There is a truth hidden in plain sight which passeth all human understanding.

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