Getting ready for the road

I’m getting ready to set out for Iona, a sacred island off the coast of Scotland. It will not be my first visit but this time, I’ll be travelling with an old friend and fellow UU minister, Tricia Brennan. We’ll be co-leading a week-long retreat and have a great group of participants ready to go.

Recently, we gathered over dinner to meet one another and talk a little bit about the preparations we are making for the trip, both spiritual and material. “What motivated you to come on this Iona trip in the first place?” we asked the group.

It was interesting, and moving, to listen to them speak about what had prompted them to say “yes” to the pilgrimage. The answers were all different and yet some common themes emerged. The desire to get away from the “regular round” of life’s duties and cares, to spend some time in solitude and silence as well as in a community of other seekers, and to visit a place that has drawn pilgrims from around the world for centuries.

Frankly, it’s hard to find the time and space sometimes to truly “prepare” for a pilgrimage. Life is jammed up with all the usual round of stuff. But here and there, I take a peak at my books on Celtic spirituality, I read through a book of old blessings and prayers from the Western Isles, I take a look at the map. I call up an old friend and consult on backpacks, boots, hiking gear, waterproofs.

Little by little, we get ourselves ready to go.

Jenny Rankin