Scotland’s Ecclesiastical Blue Skies

Perthshire Mountains Scotland

“It was a beautiful, bright autumn day, with air like cider and a sky so blue you could drown in it.” — Diana Gabaldon, Outlander

 

Scotland's Perthshire Mountains

Oh so true. I took this photo of the endless blue sky and Perthshire Mountains on my recent visit to Scotland…

Star Pyramid in Scotland near Stirling Castle

…and this one too, of the Star Pyramid, pointing to Scotland’s heavens. Also known as the Martyrs Monument, it stands just beyond the southeast side of Stirling Castle near the Valley Cemetery.

Two large grey ashlar sandstone spheres are carved with lines of latitude and longitude and flank a set of steps leading up the hill to the monument. Each side of the structure is aligned 33 degrees off a perfect north south alignment. A large bronze eagle was part of the sculpture until it disappeared in the 1970’s.

Erected in 1863 as a memorial to all who suffered martyrdom for civil and religious liberty in Scotland, the monument was commissioned by nurseryman William Drummond who was obsessed with religion.

Close up view of Star Pyramid in Scotland near Stirling Castle

Each side of the Star Pyramid contains a white marble crown, thistle, rosette, and an open bible. Each of these items is one-third the distance from each other which some suggest are masonic connections particularly since masonic symbolism uses the pyramid to represent stability and endurance, and the rosette for love, joy, and silence. A different sunken relief text with reference to verses from the Psalms appears on each side:  Union Banner, Rock of Ages, Covenant Rest, Thrown of Right.

As it neared completion, William Drummond supposedly sealed in the monument’s hollow confines a Bible and a Confession of Faith to recall the principles of the Scottish Reformation. Eternal blue skies often feel like Heavens’ embrace to me and no doubt to William Drummond too.

The Good Weather Church

Blue sky with white puffy clouds over a rural church with autumn leaves in the fore band backgrounds

Wandering through Christianity, Buddhism, and Unity to my current interest of studying the Tao, I long ago exchanged organized religion for a more profound spirituality. Structured religion gave me a moral and ethical compass for living life. Eastern philosophies expanded my understanding. But, my spirituality deepened after a life altering illness, decades of consciously working in the garden, and a burgeoning sense of gratitude.


“Religion…shall mean for us the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude…in relation to whatever they may consider the divine.”

“…In order to usefully interpret the realm of common, shared experience and history, we must each make certain “over-beliefs” in things which, while they cannot be proven on the basis of experience, help us to live fuller and better lives.”                   — William James


Discovering this naturally created pulpit and pews on my visit to Scotland this summer was a curious surprise.

I imagined listening to a sermon among these bluest of skies, lush green mountains and clear waters. The pastor wouldn’t have to speak a word.

Blessed with three good weather seasons, I’m most often in the garden — seeding, nurturing, harvesting — plants, but also my thoughts and spirit.

For me, attending church is gliding over morning dew glistened grass to the vegetable patch or flower garden…feeling the warming sun on my skin and a serene sky’s embrace. Hearing “the quiet.” At first. And then the hum of bees, chirping birds, and steady rhythm of high-pitched crickets uniting in choir.  Sweet nature gloriously sings a sermon to my soul.

Feature photo by Damian Markutt on Unsplash

 

Seeing through Obscurity

 

Scotland June 8 2019 598C

Photos of Scotland appear like subdued, opalescent paintings to me. Yet, when viewing these strikingly beautiful landscapes in person, they are just as dream-like.

Scotland June 9 2019 Portree 657C

Visiting Scotland a few weeks ago felt just as surreal in that I was finally fulfilling a lifelong dream…but learned early on that my beloved Ceilidh’s Bess passed. As I explored the western coast to the Isle of Skye then through the northwest Geopark, Scotland’s sweeping misty lens rendered surprising transparency into my own life.

Pay attention to how you feel in any given place. The words came back to me. Is the energy uplifting or downcast? Spirit-filled or draining? Am I feeling joy? Fear?††

Scotland June 8 2019 536C

Wrapped among impassioned layers of enchanted forests and glens, glacier sculpted landscapes, pristine waters, and steep majestic mountains that hold thousands of years of stories untold, my spirit felt at home in the Highlands. Similarly, but on a wee scale, my northeastern American residence is sheltered in a mountainside of woodland lushness and sparking streams. I know now that north is true for me.

Scotland June 12 2019 Strathnaver Museum 1446C
Strathnaver Museum, Farr Bay, Scotland UK

Learning about the Scottish Clearances and feeling the feelings of my long ago homeland illuminated my ken. I knew truth stood before me.

Scotland June 12 2019 Strathnaver Museum Burning House 1415C
photo of burning house from an exhibit in Strathnaver Museum

In the Clearances, inhabitants were ordered off their land then watched as their houses were burned.

from an exhibit in the Strathnaver Museum
Scotland's opalescent landscape of storm clouds through blue skies overlooking lush hillsides en route from Ullapool to Farr Bay via northwest Geopark June 2019

 

 

Fighting the natural gas pipeline is my personal, modern day experience of the Clearances. I understand powerlessness when forced against one’s will. I know the heartbreak of loss.

Scotland June 12, 2019 Strathnaver Museum Clearances-Ceilidhs 1427

 

Daily Prompt: Coincidence…

via Daily Prompt: Coincidence

…is a word I’ve replaced with synchronicity mostly after working through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way book.  Before that, I viewed coincidence in the sense that there are no coincidences, meaning God has a hand in everything.  And I’m not referring to God of any particular religion but God as in a Higher Power.

When my thinking evolved toward synchronicity, I continued to view things in a spiritual way.   Like manifesting my dreams.  I became more aware and more in tuned to the little things that were helping me along my way.

My most recent synchronistic experience relates to my lifelong dream of visiting Scotland, along with some other recent nudges.  Since practicing Qigong the last few years, my thoughts of God and the Universe are directed toward nature which has led to an interest in studying the Tao.  Participating in World Tai Chi & Qigong Day (WTCQ) has also been on my list but scheduling conflicts prevented me from taking part in this annual international event.  (It’s always held at 10AM on the last Saturday of April.)

But, this year I was free to drive an hour-and-a-half to participate in WTCQ Day with a group of seeming strangers in a lovely rolling green park dotted with blooming cherry blossoms.  (A favorite springtime site that takes my breath away.)  Imagine my delight when I heard the announcement, “We have a monthly discussion group on the Tao.  If anyone is interested please see me for details.”   Wow!  Did I hear that right?  Two dreams come true via one event.

A month or so afterward, while perusing Dr. Elaine Aron’s website for Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs),  she discussed spiritual pilgrimages and the varieties to choose from.  Hmmm.  I began rethinking my trip to Scotland.  I never travel as a typical touristy tourist and having a loose framework of where I want to go, this concept appealed to me.

Then, when I first attended the Tao discussion meeting in July, I learned that one of their mutual friends runs sacred travel pilgrimages in Scotland.  Woo hoo!  Synchronicity at it’s finest, I’d say.  A week later I ran into a fellow yogi I hadn’t seen for a while.  “I  just got back from Scotland yesterday,” she reported.  “Already I can’t wait to go back!” She smiled and I smiled too.  Another confirmation the Universe was guiding me toward satisfying this long time desire.

Coincidence and synchronicity are mystical experiences for me.  My thinking has changed over the years from too good to be true to believe in the magic.   Awareness is the key for so many things, and particularly for unlocking the gifts of this phenomenon.  I believe synchronicity is happening all the time, I only need open my eyes and see.  Then, I open my heart in gratitude and smile wide.jongjit-pramchom-211559 cherry blossom