Saturday, July 6, 2013


Coda: our last piece on this blog, our last day on the island. It began as a mournful coda as we heard winds moan as they coursed over the North sea. Sometimes they sounded like wolves howling in the distance, or women as they came to gather their dead and dying, maybe even of God calling. Calling again to witness the centuries of people struggling yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

We had trekked out to St Cuthbert's island, a holy place, when the tides were low. We sat, each in our own space.

This does feel like Holy Ground, the ruins, the priory, the felt sense of time giving and taking away.

Even the secular totems are so dramatic they inspire something of the aching fortress that is the human condition.

And then you hear children laughing, you hear mother and lamb call to one another and rush to meet for a quick feed, and it's life. And then our afternoon closes over with another more meditative time, time with the Lamb at St. Mary's The Virgin.

What a gift this trip has been.

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Our pilgrimage nears its end...

Before we leave York, there are two more things to ponder: Why do the York Minster stained glass windows feature Mary bottle-feeding Jesus? (It's a matter of propriety, of course!) And: Suppose you were a sculptor who had grown up in York (or environs), and you were tasked with carving a representation of Samson wrestling with the lion? How would you know what a lion looked like?!! (Easy - just sculpt a large, mean-looking sheep with big teeth!)

This morning found us once again schlepping our suitcases through the train station and on-and-off (only one!) the train as we began the final leg of our journey before making our way home. (It's hard to believe that tomorrow evening - low tide - we make our way back to Glasgow to fly home! Where has the time gone?!)

Destination: the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne (carefully checking tide schedules so that we could actually get here (by cab) across the causeway before it was underwater with the tides).

Ah, Lindisfarne! Whereas we began our pilgrimage in Iona's raw and rugged terrain, we are ending it in the gentleness of Iona: both sacred spaces, but different! Lindisfarne is trees and flowers and there is a soft tranquility about this place! Truly beautiful! St. Cuthbert's Island (where I baptized Erin in the North Sea), stone houses ablaze with flowers, the ruins of an old priory, a castle, an old stone church... I'm glad we have the full day tomorrow to allow the possibilities to unfold...

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Location:Marygate,Holy Island,United Kingdom

Thursday, July 4, 2013

4th of July but England's not celebrating!

Lorna again. Our second day in York has included a tour of York Minster Cathedral (who of you knows what a minster is? or why the space the choir sings in is spelled "quire"?).

Here is an early example of interfaith action in York: the crusaders (yes, that long ago!) brought back Islamic influences which they used in this stained glass window - geometric shapes instead of figures and images - which was donated by the Jewish Community for this Christian church!

Also a visit to the Sahara (dress shop) for an hour of browsing (only one of us bought), and an amazing Globe Theatre Company performance of a lesser known Shakespearean play, "The True Tragedy of the Duke of York," a.k.a. "Henry VI, Part 3" (the who's who made easier to figure out by the slashes of red or white paint on the faces of the contenders).

More questions for our followers:
What is being forbidden by the sign "No busking during school hours?"

What does "whip ma whop ma" mean and what is a gate as used in
"Whip Ma Whop Ma Gate"?

And, most important, which of these trends in mantle decorations should Kitty adopt?

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Pilgrims arrive at the Minster

Up early in Chester to make the morning trains (we never travel simply, there are always anxiety-producing transfers en route). We could see the softening of the countryside from the train windows: more trees, hedgerows, blue skies and fluffy white clouds.

Our bed and breakfast is a tongue in cheek take on high Victorian: sherry in our rooms, vintage British uniforms hanging in the hallways, canopied beds. We spent the afternoon wandering in the cathedral neighborhood and walking a section of the city walls. What gorgeous gardens we look over! What magnificent trees!

After a coffee break in a garden that made me realize I needed to go home immediately and plant more roses, more lavender and more herbs, we headed for evensong at York Minster (we'll explain why the cathedral here is called a Minster when we get back to California).

We were seated in stalls just behind the choir basses, what an experience! Tomorrow we'll tour the Minster and we have tickets to a Shakespeare production at the Royal Theatre.

Kitty, writing for the Four Adventuresses

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A friend wrote that our trip sounds harrowing. Well, the most harrowing part was watching the Chester version of the last judgement. After much charm, and pathos in the story of God and man, we were treated to the devil winning most the folks, reveling in throwing them into the fires of hell while Gabriel helped. Only Mary and some random angels made it to the great upstairs. Lorna reminded me that Adam also made it to heaven but Eve did not. Certainly pause for thought.

And thoughts we have had, about many things: we have learned that misplaced things are always in the last place you look; we have learned that we can be bang on time, and that when a Scot says you can pee on the boat, he means you can pay on the boat. Whew.

Today has been much about recollecting ourselves, errands and laundry. Kitty and Linda created a dance to the English washing/drying machine. It is a miracle of a machine with a cavity the size of a small beach ball that takes several hours to wash and another three to dry in the same cycle. Blessings on the gift of clean underwear.

Well, not all was housework. Lunch was a leisurely, very leisurely, couple of hours in a pub watching the rain and drinking ale with a waitress who studied American accents and amazingly identified Lorna as from southern Illinois. Her teacher was Russian. Go figure. We have gratitude for a good pint of ale.

We had a grand half hour boat ride in the pouring rain. And the home fires, no, not the hell fires, the home fires were restful and welcome.

Next is the supper of the lamb. Really, Carolyn and Kitty have been have been sautéing garlic and mushrooms, leeks and potatoes, and are working on the lamb. Lorna trekked about getting another bottle of wine to go with it and fresh cheap asparagus. I am on cleanup.

We are grateful for rain and friends (and Charlene, you are much with us).

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Monday, July 1, 2013

The Journey Continues:From Creation to the Last Judgment

Ahh... We had a leisurely start to our morning as we awoke (late) in our charming little River house and settled in with cups of tea or coffee. It felt wonderful to have a house (and such a nice one at that!) around us instead of little hotel rooms! Here is a pajama-clad Linda enjoying her morning coffee in our wee English garden!

As we were beginning our leisurely exploration of Chester, we came upon a group of school children learning to be "Roman soldiers" in the ruins of an old Roman amphitheater outside the city walls.

Here is one of the gates to the old city of Chester...

...and a street scene taken from the top of the city walls.

Kitty and I enjoyed exploring markets, and bought the ingredients to make a nice supper tomorrow night (the joys of a kitchen!). Here a butcher is helpfully cutting some "very nice" lamb chops for us!

And, finally: the Chester Mystery Cycle (what inspired this trip in the first place!), this year held for the first time in the Chester Cathedral (in the past two years having suffered copious amounts of rain and lightning during their performances).

Here we are, the four of us, all dressed up for dinner in the Refrectory prior to the performance.

And here is the setting for the play(s).

(During Noah's Flood I thought of Martha Streutker and her performance as Mrs. Noah when we did it for Spirituality and the Arts!). It was a rollicking trip through Scripture (with a bit of a contemporary twist), from Creation to the Last Judgment in three hours! It was a great production - at times bawdy and funny and at other times powerful and very moving!

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