Note: Video update and pictures at the end of this page.

Day 2 – Journal

The writer and hillwalker Martin Haworth in his book The Clearing of the Mists describes ‘spiritual glimpses’ in the hills, when ‘our spirit tangibly recognises something pure and holy’. He writes, ‘it is as if we have popped our gaze outside the bubble of the material world and for a second perceived something that is awesome and matters very much, if only we could determine what it is.’

There was such a moment for me this morning as the early morning mist cleared on the road from Taynuilt to Oban through Glen Lonan – suddenly the peak of Ben Cruachan came into view to the East, along with the whole sweep of the mountain tops of the West Highlands to Ben Nevis. It was a spectacular view, at the start of a beautiful sunny afternoon. Poignant moments followed today in memorial gardens – Angus’ Garden and the Cathedral of Trees. A further twelve miles covered. Looking across from Oban Harbour at the end of the walk, I could see the peak of Ben More on Mull, and began to daydream of the beauty of the Ross of Mull to follow tomorrow. Hope you enjoy the reflection and prayer, and the videos and photos from today.


Day 2 - Reflection

Pilgrimage is about travelling rather than arriving. When walking as a pilgrim along the famous Camino de Santiago in northern Spain, the now Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, described ‘a journey inwards as well as forwards.’ He was thinking about the thousands who had walked that way in faith before him over the centuries, about who Christ was to him, and ‘feeling a certain sadness for a culture whose moorings have slipped from the Christian way.’ He wrote a poem called ‘Pearl of Great Price’. It is not a poem of nostalgia for what is past, or of judging those who walk other paths, but was written as a ‘quiet celebration of Jesus who gathers up fragments and seeks out what is lost; the one who mends and heals; the one who is not finished until everything is gathered in.’

I thought today of all that have walked the way before me in the Christian faith, whilst sitting on top of the ‘Hill of the Cross’ in Glen Lonan. For centuries, a cross stood on top of the hill, perhaps a waymarker for pilgrims following the same route as me towards Iona. Now, as my photo shows, there is no cross, but the sturdy base of rock remains.

And as I walked into the bustling harbour town of Oban in the late afternoon sunshine, I thought of all those I encountered along the seafront and heard Stephen Cottrell’s words: ‘I want to say to them that there is a good and hopeful way of inhabiting the earth, a way of peace.’

His eye is on the pearl whose price is more
Than all the wealth you store for tomorrow.
His alchemy brings joy from hurt and sorrow.
He can mend damaged hearts, open locked doors.
His work is restoration and reprieve:
Each person is valued, every splinter sought.
His aim is beauty. He doesn’t squander thought
On cost or blame. He works and grieves:
For the possibilities rejected,
The wonder that was broken and blemished.
He knows his labour cannot be finished
Until all the pieces are connected.
His work is revelation and release.
His way is hope and his end is peace.

Day 2 – Prayer

Alone with none but You, my God,
I journeyed on my way,
What need I fear, when You are near,
O King of night and day?
More safe am I within Your hand
Thank if a host did round me stand.
The Child of God can fear no ill,
His chosen dread no foe:
We leave our fate to You, and wait
The bidding when we go.
‘Tis not from chance our comfort springs,
You are our trust, O King of Kings

Adapted from St Columba