Monday, June 26, 2006

Iona I - Pilgrimage Plans

In another couple of weeks I will be on the island of Iona, off the northwest coast of Scotland, spending a week as part of a group from our Presbyterian church. My husband and I will be spending the preceding week in Paris. My warped thought processes last winter produced a speedy determination that, as long as I had to cross the ocean, we should make the most of it, despite certain cost factors that render that decision laughable.

I thought that I would write a bit about our plans as I start to orient myself toward the next few weeks, starting with the whole Iona idea, the brainchild of our new associate pastor. Thanks to her, we are in the midst of a three-year cyle of adult programming on the themes of The Bible, The Traditions of the Church, and Christian Practice. The Iona trip is meant as a culmination of the past year's work on the second topic, but I see now that it also serves as a bridge between the concepts of tradition and practice.

Our little group has been decimated by illness -- two of the women were diagnosed with breast cancer almost simultaneously in the past month and will be spending the next few weeks contending with chemo instead of lost luggage. (Their plights make my decision, along the lines of "once in a lifetime -- the money be damned") somewhat less laughable. As a result, there will be twelve of us, ranging in age from 80+ to 15, meeting in a Glasgow hotel one evening and making the journey to Iona the next day. One of the women who was somewhat hesitant to make the committment last winter told me that the deal was clinched when she heard me talking about the trip as a pilgrimage ~ a word that always reminds me of Mrs. Ellis, my English professor for Intro to British Lit at Mount Holyoke, who told us that each year she hoped in vain for one of her former students to produce a movie of The Canterbury Tales.

Well, it won't be April and we won't be looking for the bones of
St. Thomas Becket, but we will, for those of you familiar with The Canterbury Tales, make up a somewhat diverse group of pilgrims. According to one of those internet quizzes making the rounds some time ago, I get to be the Prioress. I don't remember a thing about her Tale, but I'm guessing that enlightenment is sure to come quickly from another quarter.

Our destination:

Main Entry: pil·grim·age
Function: noun
Pronunciation: 'pil-gr&-mij
1 : a journey of a pilgrim ; especially : one to a shrine or a sacred place
2 : the course of life on earth

Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmers for to seken straunge strondes,

To ferne halwes, couthe in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
The holy blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke.
(Prologue to Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales)


Kathryn said...

A pilgrimage sounds like a good description. I suspect you probably put this info in an earlier entry but I have forgotten -- why Iona?

Quotidian Grace said...

Oh I'm a jealous wreck. I'm hoping to go to Iona next summer as this is the year of THE WEDDING. Part of my mother's family came from the Western Isles of Scotland--Isla--which I also want to visit. Looking forward to your pictures!

Stacy said...

What an adventure. I hope it turns out to be everything you anticipate and more. I'm looking forward to the journal entries that result.

Paul said...

Damn, I hate being so predictable.

Ahem. The Prioress...William Blake thought her the epitome of English character, and that her spirit was dominant when England flourished; he was scandalized by the Goodwyf of Bath, on whose spirit he blamed all English misfortune. Blake was, of course, crazy.

I'm doing this without looking, but it seems to me Chaucer much preferred the Wife of Bath. The Prioress seems guilty both of pride and gluttony, and even a bit of avarice. Her coral trinket and red mouth suggest a secret lustiness (she was traveling with the Nun Priest)and her jade rosary beads were akin to the Monk's fur-lined gown.

More than anything, Chaucer disliked hypocrisy. This Prioress would nearly faint if even a mouse were harmed, all the while cramming meat into her mouth (but never getting sauce stains on her habit).

Of course, you, Robin, have none of her shortcomings. You are the female version of the Oxford Cleric, on your way to becoming the Parson.

Anonymous said...

Your pilgramage sounds fascinating. What a wonderful experience you are going to have. Glad M. is enjoying this week at camp better and that DS got to his destination FINALLY.

Globetrotter said...

Paul is not as predictable as he imagines...but he sure as hell is good reference material!(just read his engaging comment!)

I remember that meme last summer... I hate to admit that I was the Prioress in that meme and although I can sometimes be a chocolate glutton I was damned happy to know I was going to heaven in spite of all my sins of indulgence! Here's the link if the html code is correct:

IWho would you be?

Robin, you are so fortunate to be taking this trip of a lifetime! I can't wait until you post all your glorious pictures and thoughts and insights! I'll live vicariously through you at that point and continue to hope that someday I, too, shall make this pilgimage!

Cynthia said...

I am so excited for you about this trip. Paris! Scotland! Hearing about the projectory of the your adult study program at church and your Ignatian spirituality exercises, a pilgramage is indeed fitting for this trip. Cost be damned. Somethings are invaluable.

alphawoman said...

I am so looking forward to your thoughts and observations during/after the trip. And I am soooooooo jealous!!