If you read my previous post, you know that I’m back from leading my Scottish Highlands & Islands Odyssey and my fellow ‘Odyssey-ites’ (sixteen) and I had the most wonderfilled, magical, transformative time, ever!
Whenever I talk about the experience, people respond with a deep sigh and say, “I wish I could have been there.”
Therefore, I decided to share my day-to-day Odyssey experiences with you through a series of newsletters. Every few days, I’ll post an account with photos of our amazing adventure. Please feel free to email me any questions or comments.
Lots of Joy,
The day dawned with what we were to learn is typical Fall Scottish weather-lots of rain. Although the Odyssey didn’t officially begin until 3:15 pm when we were to all meet in the hotel lobby for our departure to Rosslyn Chapel, the last six members of the group were coming in on the same early morning flight and I wanted to be in the lobby to greet them.
As Winslow and I welcomed the six somewhat soggy travelers, we invited them to our room so that they could at least remove their coats and relax in a warm, comfortable (though small) space. Then we took them to the hotel’s breakfast room and it was there that we all decided that since they wouldn’t be able to check into their rooms until 2:00pm, we might as well go out and explore the town.
I told them that we’d found the Wyrd Shop and it was unanimously decided that we’d go there with the hope that the owner would choose today to be open. We headed down the Royal Mile on the way to Canongate with stops for rain boots (which I’d forgotten to bring, too), unique Scottish-made goods at Heather’s Canongate Jerseys & Crafts and of course, the still closed Wyrd Shop. Just picture eight rain soaked tourists standing in front of a red painted storefront, willing it to be open, excitedly pointing to the items in the window display.
We love museums too, so we decided to continue willing the Wyrd Shop to be open while we visited the richly historic Museum of Edinburgh. As we enjoyed the museum, we observed proper museum etiquette by commenting on the exhibits in hushed tones. Oh, we were the perfect models of discrete, well-mannered seekers of knowledge…that is, we were until someone threw open the museum’s front door and yelled, “The Wyrd Shop is open!”
The resulting energy whirlwind was a wonder to behold (and to be a part of). Though still well-mannered, we lost no time in getting out of the museum and getting into the shop that many of us had come so far to explore. And we were not disappointed. There were wonders and charms and card decks the likes of which we’d never seen before-oh, the treasures! We forgot that most of us had only met for the first time that morning and bonded as we exclaimed and advised and shopped to our heart’s content.
When we were done, the small shop was pretty much cleaned out and it was nearly time for our travelers to check into their hotel rooms, so we headed back up the Royal Mile to Leith Street and our hotel. Fortunately, the rain had stopped and the sky was a clear and beautiful blue.
At 3:15pm, all seventeen of us met in the lobby, anxiously anticipating our visit to the renowned holy place, Rosslyn Chapel. As we introduced ourselves to each other, a lovely couple, Nicky and Les, introduced themselves to me as our assigned Scottish guides for the Odyssey. (Actually, Nicky was our assigned Scottish guide. Les, her partner, had read the Odyssey on-line brochure and asked to come along and add his guide expertise at his own expense! When they first approached me with this suggestion, I knew this was another sign that ours was a blessed journey and I had to be doing something right for a professional guide to want to spend his week off participating in our adventure.)
As our coach pulled up to Rosslyn Chapel, a hush fell over the group. The beauty and energy of the chapel embraced and welcomed us. Could it get any better than this!? That question was immediately answered when one of the Odyssey-ites pointed in the direction of the chapel and yelled, “Look,
a rainbow!” We were being greeted by a rainbow-proof of God’s covenant-at the first stop on our Odyssey. This would be the first of the many rainbows that appeared and accompanied us on our journey.
We were led into the chapel’s gift shop where we waited until it was time for our private visit. We didn’t have much time there, but we made sure we had keepsakes to remind us of this special place.
At the appointed hour, we were directed to the chapel and it was all I could do to stay in my body as we entered this sacred space! Niall, the chapel guide, told us of its history and explained the meanings of the carvings as he pointed out the artwork. He generously answered our questions and encouraged us to explore the chapel on our own. Jan (Dr. Jan Seward) spoke of the origins of the chapel from a Sacred Geometry perspective and delivered a soul stirring Invocation before leading us in the most moving vocal toning I’ve ever participated in.
In awe of the beauty and the majesty of the moment, everyone chose their Odyssey journal, guiding elemental energy and personal quote and I gave the Odyssey’s foundational first guided meditation. Throughout the guided meditation, William, the Rosslyn Chapel cat, snuggled on Odyssey-ite Maria’s lap. (This was the first of many times that Maria would be ‘singled’ out for special treatment.)
After the guided meditation, we explored this indescribably beautiful holy space. Of all the magnificent carvings, my favorite is the spiral shaped Apprentice Pillar. (Here is our Pam, praying in front of it.) For me, its presence confirms that Rosslyn Chapel is one of the ‘thin places,’ where the veil that separates the earthly from the ethereal disappears. We are blessed, as you can see, to have been able to take photos here. Although they have a strict ‘no pictures’ policy, without asking, we were told that we had permission to take pictures!
We loved it there! When it was time for us to take our leave, our souls thanked us for bringing them home. We thanked our souls for insisting that we make the journey.
Our next stop was Stac Polly restaurant, where we’d have our first group dinner. Once seated in our private dining room, we ordered our food and drink and continued the bonding that had begun earlier in the day. I asked that everyone acknowledge Jan for thinking of and handling the details of our phenomenal private visit to Rosslyn Chapel and for her moving Invocation and toning. They enthusiastically did. I also asked that everyone acknowledge Winslow for researching and creating the beautiful and important Odyssey Information Packet. More enthusiasm! Next, I told them that on every one of my Odysseys, at the first group dinner, we’d try to figure out who the youngest person in the group was. I asked them to acknowledge and thank Jan’s twelve year old daughter Amanda for making it easy for us this time.
As the food and drink came and the meal proceeded, we settled into a relaxed and easy comradery. When one of the servers called me out of the dining room and directed my attention to the tall, gallant, kilt wearing man who stood by the bar, I knew that my surprise had arrived.
(A little back story here-I knew that in order for the power of the Odyssey to work, the participants would have to be consciously connected to and aware of the love they have in their hearts and souls for Scotland. In order to do that, we’d need a storyteller, someone who’d tell us the story of this great heart that is Scotland from his or her heart. So, I contacted the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh and after considering and interviewing twenty storytellers, I chose Calum Lykan.)
I led him into our dining room and introduced him. He began his presentation by telling us something he’d already told me during the interviewing process-that he told stories about Scotland-not the story of Scotland. He told us that no one had ever asked him or any of the other professional storytellers to do that before me. He’d accepted the job because he liked a challenge and he hoped he could live up to it.
He began by explaining that he was a proud, true Scotsman who wore the kilt, not as a fashion statement, but as his everyday garment. As he continued, his hesitancy and self-doubt fell away and he became the very embodiment of this fiercely beautiful land and its people. He didn’t just tell us about the heart, soul and history of Scotland, he was the heart, soul and history of Scotland!
In passionately sharing his view and love of Scotland with us, Calum was so natural and in the moment. He took us on a heart centered journey, transporting us back to the beginning, expertly guiding us through pivotal major events and ‘introducing’ us to Scotland’s legendary characters as he brought us back to
present day Scotland. He spoke for an hour and when he’d finished, we spontaneously stood up, applauded and cheered. After he left, some of the comments from the Odyssey-ites were, “He made it all come alive!” “I was transfixed!” and my favorite, by someone who’d just finished reading, ‘Outlander,’ “That’s who they should have cast as Jamie in the TV series!”
On the walk back to our hotel, I overheard someone say, “If this is what the first day is like, I can’t imagine how the rest of the Odyssey will be!”
Good-they were happy. So was I.
Sunday, October 5th – Day 2, God Laughs…