Iona Pentecost Pilgrimage: Solviture ambulando

walkingHere on Iona, where it is often stated in promotional material that sheep outnumber people and cars, everyone walks.  There is but a single road and upon that one walks to get to the ferry, get to the Abbey, get a cup a tea.  It is both a means to a destination and a value in and of itself.  By walking, I get in tune with my body.  I am aware of what feels good, and what is creaking more than it used to.  I become attuned to my overall health and well being: am I out of breath?  Do I feel strong?  Do I need to stop, slow down or speed up?  Taking such stock of myself, I’m also more aware of others.  Incredibly different than when driving within cars, when I pass someone on this solitary street, I am significantly aware of their presence, even when they are yet yards and yards beyond me.  I sense them really; because I am removed from my insular vehicle, my soul feels the life of what is around me. So not only am I aware of others walking the road, but I hear the kerrx-kerrx of the Corn Crake nesting in the farmers’ fields.  I hear the bleating cries of young sheep trying to find the warmth and milk of their momma’s.  I feel the wind whipping about me and the moist mist accumulating on my face.

Because I can trust the undulation of my walking, I can also look about me without worrying about crashing (hopefully!).  I watch the ferry crossing the Sound of Iona.  I note the craggy height of Dun I.  I look for the turquoise hues in the sea.  And if I do happen to bump into another person during my perusals, it mandates human contact, and always elicits laughter and communication, despite language barriers.

That’s really it, I think.  Walking removes barriers.  Issues of class and status don’t exist on a road of pilgrim pedestrians.  There are no BMWs or Mercedes Benz.  There are no pimped out wheels or self-defining bumper stickers.  There is no road rage as we all are relying on the same bi-ambular locomotion.  We are just simply, ourselves, on our two feet, walking the way we were designed.  And we appreciate our fellow roaming creatures as well.  A leveling effect takes place even between us and the sheep, us and the cows.  I see these creatures a bit differently when we are on the same plain, looking at one another with only a fence between us.  As I look into these creatures eyes, as we both stand on our feet, and I witness the lamb bumping up into his momma’s udder to drink her milk, and I think, “We are not all so very different, you and I.  What can I learn from you today?”  Walking teaches us about things that matter and things that don’t.

As my feet walk this road, I find that my life is slowly set back in order.  Priorities fall back into place.  I cannot rush to get somewhere and pack more into my day.  For I simply can only do what my body is capable of and where my feet can physically take me.  I cannot squeeze in one last Target errand, while rushing to get children to baseball practice and swim lessons.  In walking’s simplicity, a gift of simplicity is given back to me and how I choose to live my life.

Augustine was onto a great truth when suggesting that we have the answer to our problems in our own two feet as he said, “it is solved by walking.”

sheep

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8 thoughts on “Iona Pentecost Pilgrimage: Solviture ambulando

  1. Just as I finalized the plans for my trip to Iona next year, I stumbled upon your blog and book! I ordered your book and will follow your trip in the days ahead. Blessings on your journey!

  2. I have walked that road many times. Oh, that I can do it once more! Lovely feelings and expressions. When I walk again I will remember and not groan so much. Mercies and blessings to all in Iona today. Genie Quincy

  3. In urban areas I always say the best way to become acquainted with a new neighbourhood is by abandoning the car and walking it.
    I like the idea of a single road on Iona. Not ‘the road less travelled’ but the road all travel, on this pilgrimage of life. Enjoying these summaries you are giving us.

  4. When my husband and I were on Iona in October we stayed at the hostel as well, and love the walk from there to the Abbey (and back), especially after the evening service when it was pitch black. We would turn off our headlamps and let the stars and our feet on the pavement be our guides (and were always surprised when we turned on our lights to find sheep right beside us staring!).

  5. I’m very fortunate to have stumbled onto your blog. I must admit I don’t know where Iona is, so I have some Googling ahead.. but it looks and sounds lovely! I agree with your points about walking; it’s the best way to truly see and hear that which unfolds around us every day; there are such treasures to be found… I wish you a slow and adventurous journey!

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