The Next Leg of the Journey

This week I watched Outlander on Netflix and was reminded of the beauty of Scotland. Three years ago I was traveling through some of the land I saw in those episodes. After our time in Paris that I described in last week’s post, my husband and I took the Eurail to London, then took ScotRail into Edinburgh. From the comfort of a fifteen-seater tour bus, we were driven on a rainy day by a kilted guide up into the Highlands. Watching the MacKenzie clan riding their horses across that same land in Outlander, I could fill the dampness in the air and smell peat smoke in the distance.

Foggy day in the Highlands 9/17

When we finished our day on the bus, I was filled with expectation about exploring more of Scotland the next morning. David would fly back, as scheduled, to the States, while I continued on the next leg of my trip: my solo journey to Iona.

I boarded the train in Edinburgh and headed west on the two-hour trip to Oban. Unlike the day before that had been drizzle and fog, the sun was shining and the weather was splendid–especially for September in Scotland. The couple sitting in front of me were very friendly and like often happens when you’re traveling alone, they wanted to be helpful. They were from Scotland and were going on holiday in an area near Oban.

“There’s lots of nice places to eat there– if you have time before you catch your ferry,” the husband told me.

We stopped at a small station that was barely more than a platform right by the tracks. A tall, dark-headed man with a walking stick and a daypack boarded and sat across the aisle. Soon, he joined in on our conversation and told us he was meeting his walking club at a trail on up the line. When he asked about my destination, he smiled when I said I was going for a week at the Abbey at Iona.

“That’s a wonderful place for a spiritual retreat,” he said. We passed his Presbyterian church and he told us he was an elder.

The view of the Scottish countryside from the train 9/17

We were all looking out the windows and enjoying the clear view. There was a peaceful rhythm with the train’s gentle rocking as we traveled eastward, climbing steadily.

The couple told me they lived near their daughter and helped take care of their grandchildren.

“Yeah, we spoil them quite a bit,” she said, and chuckled. “Spend a lot of money on those wee ones.”

“I’m going to be a grandmother in May,” I told her.

“That’s great,” she responded. “Do you know if it’s a girl or boy?”

“No, but we should be hearing soon,” I told her. Later, I would learn from a text the night before I flew back that we’d be having a grandson.

It was nice riding the train and having the companionship of those folks. I’d carefully planned my trip and now I just had to follow through with each portion of the journey. I felt relieved to not be worrying about safely navigating David through the crowded train stations, fearing he’d re-injure his leg.

The tall man got off before we reached Oban, turning to wish me a great week at the Abbey. His hiking group had gathered near the trailhead, greeting each other, smiling, looking like they were ready for an enjoyable day together.

After stopping at a couple more stations, there was an announcement that we were approaching the final stop in Oban.The couple pulled their belongings from the overhead rack.

“You have a nice holiday. And best to you with your new grandchild,” the husband said and wife smiled as they made their way into the aisle and exited the train.

There was no time to get lunch at any of the restaurants he’d suggested. I just had enough time to walk down the street and board the ferry to Craignure on the island of Mull, the second-largest island in the Inner Hebrides.

After being inside the train, I was glad to stand outside on the ferry for the forty-five minute ride, pulling my jacket tight to counter the chill in the air. The sun shining on my face and the cool breeze off the water were refreshing, awakening me to the vast expanse of beauty and possibility in front of me.

I’d enjoyed the company and conversation with the Scottish passengers on the train, but now I needed to be alone. I hadn’t had time by myself to take in my surroundings. I wondered what was ahead for me in Iona.

Part of a great journey, whether by air, car, train, or boat is to have time to anticipate the place that you’ve been longing for. I wondered who I’d meet at the Abbey and what would they be like. Iona was a historic pilgrimage site and while it was originally riddled with fairies they were later replaced by angels when the monks arrived. Would I feel a sense of that mystery? Was it a magical place or was that just hype?

I was headed into the unknown. After the ferry I’d catch a chartered bus to the village of Fionnphort where I’d spend two nights before crossing over the sound to Iona.

I had to wait to arrive in that ‘promised’ land–that place where things happened. Until then, I just wanted to relax and enjoy the journey.

Village of Fionnphort overlooking Iona Sound

How About You?

In what way are you on a journey to an unknown land?

How can you relax and enjoy the journey, waiting to enter your ‘promised land’?

9 thoughts on “The Next Leg of the Journey

    • Hey Julia,
      That sounds so interesting–I’d love to hear more. Any area of calling into the ministry is truly a journey of faith, a venture into the unknown.
      If you’d like to share more of that, feel free to send me an email at
      You may have said as much as you want to say at this point– so no worries if you don’t want to email. I understand.
      I do wish you both Godspead in taking those steps forward on your journey, your pilgrimage into ministry.


  1. Nice post of past experiences. You are so blessed to be able to talk to anyone. As our days accumulate filled with great memories remembering the details are filled with such clarity. I admire your courage and desire for new adventures, Your photos are great and do add to your narrative. Continue as you grow to find that the journey is a series of trips that provide the meaning. Much love and blessing.


    • Hey John,
      Thanks so much for reading and responding. Yeah, my boys have often commented that I can ‘talk to anyone’ and sometimes, from them, that’s not a complement! Ha! I guess it’s my Scotch-Irish ancestry and growing up in the South with other ‘friendly Southerners.’
      I like what you say, to “find that the journey is a series of trips that provide the meaning.” I think that’s something all of us can find as a useful framework in looking at our life journey.
      Best to you, John, in the week ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Connie! I’m hoping to start a new job at nearly sixty years of age! And a a field completely new to me… Scary. Maybe it will happen, and maybe it won’t, I just have to wait and see. And in the meantime, I carry on with my life as usual. šŸ™‚


    • Hey Zelmare,
      A new job is certainly a journey to the unknown! And, at sixty some of the skills needed in that new position can be challenging. Good for you– stepping forward to accept that challenge. It will bring growth– through the testing of your patience, I think, if you’re anything like me!
      When I returned from Scotland, I started a new part-time job. It has been challenging at times with the self-service orientation that I received and the lack of assistance for a part-time employee.
      But, I struggled through and things are much better now at three years in. I feel like it’s been good for me and made me more alert, more ready for an adventure– whether it’s work or solo travel.
      Best to you as you wait for what is to unfold. If that job isn’t the one, I expect something else that’s better will show up.
      Best to you, Zelmare,


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