A strange encounter

Dec 22, 2014

I awake on Tuesday morning with the sun streaming through my bedroom window.  What a welcome for my first full day in Iona!  What will the day hold?  I understand that on a clear day in October you are almost guaranteed to see the Northern lights.  Is that how God will speak to me?

I set off to walk around the island.  I’ve heard you can walk it in a day.  My last meal was on Sunday night.  I have wanted to be completely uncluttered and structure-free on my way to and from Iona, and during my time here, but I do want to be outside, not inside.  Life is a journey, and I want to mirror that in my body language today.

At first, the going is easy.  All I have with me is my bible and journal.  I meant to bring water, but I quickly find the higher up little rock pools have fresh water coming off the hills – nicer than tap water, so I’m OK.  I stop to read a few Psalms.  I love the two-tone blue created by the sea-weed hanging everywhere off the coastline.  I read Mark’s gospel and in the very first chapter sense a deep connection to two spiritual leaders who spent many days in creative solitude.  I am determined not to create the agenda here, though.  I’m here for God to grab my attention, not for me to grab his.

It must be the middle of the afternoon now.  I’m not too sure as I have no phone, computer or watch to tell me.  As I look up I see something like an eagle high in the sky.  As I’m quite tired now I lay down to watch this splendid creature.  Not, not an eagle.  Much too small.  An Osprey or Falcon, maybe?  Back and forth it flies.  Back and forth, and ever lower, lower, lower.  The bird seems as interested in me as I am in it.  I chuckle to myself.  Do I look so dead on my feet that it thinks a meal might be in the offing?  Back and forth. Still lower and lower.

At about 20 metres I’m now starting to make a risk assessment.  How powerful is that beak?  I’m much bigger than the bird is.  Could it do me some damage?  Caution wins over curiosity, and I decide to move my bag nonchalantly to let this bird know I am alive and well.  Equally nonchalantly the bird flies off.  But I am a little spooked.  I sense that God may be grabbing my attention.  Perhaps there is danger here.  Perhaps I am more tired than I realise.  There must be several hours more light, but I will look for the fastest, most direct way home now.  It won’t be as fast as I hope.