Gather Yourself: Lessons in Scotland

After all the dreaming, planning, and praying, I’m now at the threshold of Iona,” I wrote in my journal a year ago as I looked across the white-capped-waters of the sound toward the stone buildings of the Abbey. I’d made it to the village of Fionnphort in the Inner Hebrides, where I’d booked a room for two nights at the Seaview Bed and Breakfast, to rest and prepare for my week living at Iona Abbey. It was my solo journey, my yearly spiritual pilgrimage, but this time, it was to a historic pilgrimage site, my first trip to Scotland.


Seaview Bed and Breakfast, Mull, Scotland

I was glad that after my arrival on Thursday afternoon, I would have until Saturday at 3:00 before I would join the forty others from around the world for our week together. We would live in that faith-seeking community and explore The Pilgrimage of Life– our theme for the week with our leader, Alistair McIntosh, a native of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.

Any doubt about whether I’d selected the best lodging was immediately dismissed when I met John and Jane Noddings, the owners and hosts at the B & B. John, who referred to himself as the ‘chatty’ one, showed me around and introduced me to Jane, who was in the kitchen cooking dinner.


John, the ‘chatty’ one

That first night, I was so tired and her meal of lamb and potatoes nourished me and warmed the chill that had stayed with me since the ferry. John, who’d formerly been a fisherman, gave me helpful information to make my stay easier– like how the strong currents could shut down the ferry to Iona that was just a ten-minute trip across the sound.


It was as delicious as it looks!

That first meal, I had the dining room to myself as the other guests had not arrived. How I savored those bites, looking out across the water, watching the vanishing light over Iona. I wasn’t able to post my pictures last year because I had so many problems getting wifi in that remote area. But I’ll make up for it now and share them with you.


It was nice to sit in the quiet. I’d just come from Edinburgh where my husband and I had finished our trip together that had included Paris, London, and a day trip into the Scottish Highlands. Seaview B & B provided me a place to restore my energy before becoming part of a group for a week. It would give me time to gather myself, to pull in before I spread out– experiencing the dynamic growth of living and learning from a new community.

Looking back, that was a perfect plan.

How many other times in my life should I have recognized the need to fuel up, to allow for an intentional transition in order to be ready for what was ahead?

My usual practice was to keep going and not slow down. But having that time to see the threshold, that place of crossing from what is known to the unknown–like what has been experienced by pilgrims over the ages, helped me to mentally, physically, and emotionally prepare for that week that was life-changing.

After dinner those evenings at Fionnphort, I walked around the village.  How peaceful it was in the quiet of that small community on the western shores of Scotland.



On the banks of Fionnphort


View of ferry dock at Fionnphort

On my ferry ride from Oban to Craignure, where I then boarded a bus like the red one in the photo, I decided to make my first video while on a solo journey. But when the time came to post it, I chickened out, always a bit self-conscious about being filmed, about the sound of my own voice. Well, it’s time to let go of that.

While the day was sunny, I was not use to the dampness and wind, that I would learn was ever-present on the coast of Scotland. By the end of my ferry ride, I was chilly in spite of my layers of clothing. Seeing this video, lets me relive that Thursday afternoon last September.


As I anticipated joining the group on that Saturday, several questions pressed in on me. I wrote them in my journal:  “What will it be like to live in a community for a week? How will I fit in? How will I manage without an ‘escape route’ like I have with my trips in the States?”

I waited and prayed on the banks of Fionnphort and asked God to bless me and the people in my path in the week ahead.

Next time, I’ll tell you how God answered my prayer, how He Heard My Voice.


How about You?

What times in your life have you been at the threshold of a life-changing event?

Were you able to take the time to Gather Yourself, to pull in and fuel up, allowing for an intentional transition so you would be ready to receive the benefits of what was ahead?

Posts from the trip before I arrived at Iona

Scotland Calling

Paris Can’t Wait

Tea at Two



18 thoughts on “Gather Yourself: Lessons in Scotland

  1. Often, we don’t know we are on the threshold of a life-changing event until after it has happened. I imagine the times when we do know ,and the event turns out to be truly life-changing are few and far between. I guess the big ones would be: one’s wedding, births of kids, and funerals. One knows what is going to happen and that things will never be the same again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Erika,
      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. You’re right, that many times we may not know until afterwards. In my situation, it was planned and I was able to be more intentional. But I think sometimes, if we’d all just slow down, we would have more in our reserves for getting the most out of life–even the smaller everyday events.
      Thanks for your support by reading and commenting.
      Best to you on this Saturday,


  2. Glad to offer a comment. And I need good wishes. Our beach house was hit hard and is uninhabitable. Will meet with insurance agent next week. But everything has to be kept in perspective. It’ll cost us money, effort and time, but it’s not our main abode, and we are safe. I feel so sorry for those folks who have lost everything they had. And some have even lost kin. Very sad. And luck plays a big part in whether you are spared or not. Even the best preparation isn’t always enough. C’est la vie!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry to hear about your place. I do wish you the best with all you have to do to deal with this. You’re right–many have lost everything. Prayers for everyone dealing with the aftermath–no matter if it’s large or small.


  3. Ooh you’re in Scotland? I’ve always wanted to travel there as much of my family has Scotch/Irish roots. The B&B looks so cozy and that meal, yummy! I think you are so wise to carve out a little time alone before being in the group ~ I would have done the same thing — I hope your pilgrimage is wonderful! Do post about your learnings!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey MJ,
      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. That was actually last year and I’m thinking of that time because it was exactly a year ago. I’ve found that after a solo journey, a pilgrimage, it takes a while to look at all the ways you were impacted.

      I find participating in groups interesting, but sometimes, exhausting. Guess I’m more of an introvert than extrovert. For that reason, I think carving out quiet time was wise–and unlike me!
      The B & B was cozy–especially when you became rain-soaked and the wind was blowing hard. Nothing seemed to get through those thick granite walls.

      You should go to Scotland–wonderful people and beautiful countryside. I’m like you with my ‘Scotch-Irish’ roots–as my Grandma Smith would say.
      Thanks for reading,

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Connie,
    This is a great piece. Your photos are great and could tell the story just by looking at them. Your Video was equally interesting. Never hesitate to share what you have. If there are critics, they can have their opinions. Here, soon, I will be experiencing a “Solo” journey. I am trying to put together a prelude followed by the actual experience. Lately, it has been a chore to compose and write. You always have something that is very worthy of reading. Thank you for your “being there”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey John,
      Thanks for your encouragement. I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. You’re right that I must ignore those critics–whether they’re actual or in my head.
      Best to you as you prepare for your solo journey. Writing is sometimes a chore–it doesn’t just flow freely and effortlessly. But for some reason, that’s what we’ve been given to do and ultimately, we wouldn’t be happy if we didn’t compose.
      May you have time to Gather Yourself, for a quiet prelude to prepare you for your journey.
      Best to you,

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s so lovely to hear your voice, Connie – especially since we missed seeing each other when you were in London. You’ve said before that some people have commented about your accent, but I find it very soothing! Next time I’m out and about somewhere interesting, perhaps I’ll give video blogging a go…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Julia,
      Sorry for the delay in responding.
      Thanks so much for your kind and encouraging words about the video and about my voice. I’m glad it’s soothing for you!
      I think you should give video blogging a go. Everything I see you do, you do it well, with artistry and style–so I’m sure you’d do great with video.
      Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts.
      Best to you,

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I went on an 18 day trip to Germany and Switzerland recently. My travel companion wanted to go go go. I, like you, could have used a day (or two) to gather myself. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Mary,
      Thanks for reading and for sharing your experience from your trip. I find that more and more, I want time to absorb things. Maybe that’s part of aging– at least for me. I wish you could have had that time.
      I look forward to hearing about your adventures in Germany and Switzerland that must have been amazing!
      Best to you,


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