2015-J2A Pilgrimage to Scotland, Day 5 (June 25)

An account of the day: Thursday, June 25

Catered breakfast! Very hot coffee, very hot tea water, two types of potatoes, two choices of grilled meat, grilled tomatoes(!), scrambled eggs and toast. Oh, and cereal, yogurt, juice and milk. The pilgrims filled their plates and ate heartily in anticipation of a visit to a castle and an afternoon touring Glasgow.

Craignethan Castle, South Lanarkshire, Scotland

Craignethan Castle, South Lanarkshire, Scotland

We packed lunches to-go, piled into the bus and hurtled along the motorway toward the haunted  Craignethan Castle in the countryside. John S faithfully followed Tommy's (the Tom-Tom GPS) orders, making several turns and finally trundled onto a pothole-ridden driveway. We pulled up next to a farmhouse with a "beware of dog" sign posted on the gate, and wondered where the castle ruins could be. We stepped carefully around the nettles found just outside the bus step, and headed off down a path toward a corrugated building. There was no sign of a castle. We shrugged our shoulders, dusted off our feet and decided to look elsewhere.

With the pilgrims reseated in the bus, John headed back out to search for the last signpost to the site, determined to get us to our appointed destination. A few pilgrims had a vision of a castle and suggested a right hand turn at the end of the farmer's driveway. That proved to be the right direction, but the castle was set in a gorge at the base of a hill about 2 hills distant from the first stop. We discovered that on pilgrimage one's eyesight becomes remarkably stronger.

Craignethan Castle was the last medieval castle built in Scotland and was occupied for only about a dozen years by its owner before he fell from royal grace and was executed. A few decades later remnants of the family offended the king so much that the castle was torn down to prevent further occupation. The beauty and majesty of the remains are a testament to the vision of its builder who studied architecture in Italy. Its impermanence is likewise a testament to the choices and decisions one makes to live according to your own moral compass, and still be willing to face the consequences.

Dew-soaked spider's web at Craignethan Castle

Dew-soaked spider's web at Craignethan Castle

One sincerely doubts that the original residents envisioned a frisbee being thrown from the Great Hall to the Musician's gallery, or that a frisbee would breech the castle's fortress walls. But on this day that came to pass.

A Frisbee breeches the walls at Craignethan

A Frisbee breeches the walls at Craignethan

We turned the bus back toward Glasgow to explore the cathedrals of St. Andrew and Glasgow, and see the Necropolis. Rain fell steadily in the middle part of the day as we spent time at the two very different cathedrals. The St. Andrew's Cathedral building dates from 1819, but has undergone recent renovations to worship spaces that give it a very contemporary vibe. The prayer garden in an outdoor courtyard contains stainless steel columns etched with scripture verses and prayers. A water feature masks the sound of traffic from the busy street and reminds us of the significance and importance of this life-giving element.

Glasgow Cathedral

Glasgow Cathedral

The next stop was Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis. Glasgow Cathedral dates from 1197. The pilgrims scurried between the raindrops to enter the Cathedral. They were greeted by a stark contrast to St. Andrew's. This building survived The Reformation so its interior retains a Scottish Gothic essence although it sported sets of contemporary stained glass windows. Pilgrims roamed the huge structure and wandered through its many levels and multiple/flexible worship spaces. In every corner there was evidence of recent worship activity. St. Mungo's episcopal seat was Glasgow, and his remains are in a crypt on the ground floor of the building. He and St. Columba are said to have met.

The pilgrims retired to St. Mungo's museum next door, mainly to escape the now driving rain and seek refreshments in the cafe (thank you, John and Wonder Voyage!). A view of the Necropolis from the top floor of the museum became our weather barometer. A majority of the pilgrims decided to forge ahead to climb the Necropolis and while those who stayed in the museum explored the exhibits displaying art from various religious traditions and an exhibit on the traditions involving the celebration of rites of passage by a variety of religious sects.

Glasgow Cathedral (St. Mungo's) and The Necropolis

Glasgow Cathedral (St. Mungo's) and The Necropolis

It's not unusual for mysterious and wonderful things to happen while on pilgrimage. As the hours of living in community and being mindful of God's presence add up, the eyes of our hearts are opened. Sometimes we see castles, and sometimes we see gravestones. One gravestone in particular moved the group that walked through the Necropolis and they joined together to frame an appropriate response. Jesus was most present in their lives as they sorted through the circumstances and consequences of the loss of a loved one. They looked to the Lord for guidance and to each other for support. They prayed that those suffering from grief would find comfort from a seemingly inconsolable loss. This was a lesson that Christ's death brings us into everlasting life. We can be redeemed and consoled.

A short bus ride brought the pilgrims back to the hostel to enjoy a bit of free time. We broke into small groups to explore Glasgow before Team 1, nicknamed "Team Haggis",  reported for kitchen duty.

Free time in Glasgow - an attraction listed on the map from the hostel

Free time in Glasgow - an attraction listed on the map from the hostel

At 8:30 all the pilgrims gathered at the table for Stone Soup Deux. After grace was said, the team presented plates of prawn with cocktail sauce. The main course was served family style, and the team marched the bowls and  platters of peas, mashed turnips, grilled tomatoes and haggis into the dining room while singing the tune of "Scotland the Brave". It was all very delicious. Dessert was shortbread with a topping of Nutella, chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. All in all, a very equal reply to the gauntlet cast by Team Cockaleekie.

Haggis, mashed turnips, peas and grilled tomatoes

Haggis, mashed turnips, peas and grilled tomatoes

An evening of sharing and compline completed the day. The pilgrims said additional prayers for specific people and causes in the hope that our prayers will help them in some way.

Despite the rain, the day was filled with Joy and Jesus. Junk seemed to be inconsequential today.