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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Be Prepared

"Be prepared!" Jesus tells us this in today's Gospel; it is also the motto of the Scouts. Jesus tells us to be prepared because "at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come."
When Peter wants to know if this parable of the thief coming and the need to be prepared is for everyone, Jesus replies by asking, "Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so."
We need to live each day as if it were our last day so we are ready when Jesus comes for us.
The pictures are of Iona. It was wonderful to visit the Abbey. Here is some background about it: Iona island is separated from the western tip of the Ross of Mull by a mile or so of sea: it is mostly flat and green, with hills rising to some 330 feet in the north, and - unusually for these parts - has beaches with fine silver sand. Its first religious settlement was founded in the 6th century by St.Columba, an Irish monk who went on to establish a series of similar communities throughout Scotland and northern England. This initially flourished and the famous Book of Kells was probably written here; many crosses and monuments remain from this period. After Viking raids in the late 8th century most of the community returned to Ireland. Some devoted monks and hermits remained, but in the early 13th century the present Benedictine abbey was established under the patronage of the powerful MacDonald clan, the Lords of the Isles. After the Lordship was forfeited in the 15th century, the abbey was caught up in the religious turmoil of the time and gradually declined; by Victorian times the buildings were ruined and the community had again been dispersed. Tourist travel to the islands reawakened interest: the buildings were restored in the early 20th century, and in 1938 the current Iona Community was founded (an offshoot of the Church of Scotland) who now hold the buildings in trust; the remainder of the island is owned by the Scottish NT. It has a permanent population of about 100.

As you can see from this background, I felt as if I were on a pilgrimage. We drove across Scotland to the west coast, took a ferry to the island of Mull, drove across it on a curvy narrow road just wide enough for one car but with two-way traffic. You sometimes find yourself head on with a bus or truck and one must back up to find a place to pull over and let the other pass. There is much stopping and backing and waving during this hour and a half spectacular drive. At one point we had to wait as the car was surrounded by cows! If you have never seen a highland cow, look one up as they have long hair that allows them to stay outside even in the worst weather.
After crossing this beautiful island and seeing mostly only sheep and cows grazing on the hillsides, we finally reached the smaller ferry that would take us to Iona without the car. Only a few residents are allowed to have a car. I wanted to get to the Abbey today as that is the main attraction of the island, but it will wait until tomorrow. I must add that my vocabulary has been enriched by my trip across Scotland and I now speak of not only lochs, burns, moors, but of wynds, straths, and still wonder exactly how to describe "harled" walls!

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