Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Kerrera Pilgrimage

On May 7, 2011 the ecumenical community of Kilmore and Oban took the six mile walk around the southern path of Kerrera, a beautiful island just off Oban Bay. While Kerrera may not be known for the iconic Christian history of places like Iona, it remains a deeply historic and dramatic island with a resident population of about 30 people.
As for parrots, the population is closer to 60.

Kerrera is home to the sweeping Horseshoe Bay where Alexander II, King of Scotland, met his end. It also hosts the Gylen Castle, which was burned in 1647 by the Covenanters under General Leslie, but still maintains a rugged and majestic presence along the rugged cliffs.

We took six stops round the island, and corresponded each stop with a little scripture. Our understanding is that every place we walk upon us a gift from God...

Stop 1: Horseshoe Bay. The place of Alexander II's death. We read from John 3:11-17, to compare what the kingdom(s) of humanity and of Christ look like, and how they may differ. Where we seek domination, Christ seeks reconciliation.

Stop 2: Kerrera Bird Sanctuary. Operated by gentle Yvonne, who cares for some 60 exotic birds that have otherwise been abused, neglected or forgotten. We read from Genesis 1:24-28, recollecting God's command to care for all living things as beings made in God's image.

Stop 3: Gylen Castle. As noted, this beautiful ruin has a turbulent history of warfare, bloodshed and a great arson. We read Psalm 46 to hear of God's fortress, which is a stronghold and refuge for all people. In the Triune God there is greater strength still than the fortresses of humanity.

Stop 4: Ardmore, the old shepherd's house. At the shepherd's house, we are reminded of Luke 15's parable of the lost sheep. We'd like to think we're one of the found, but I'm convinced those don't exist. Christ is in the business of shepherding, and shepherding is what he is going to do.

Stop 5: Barnabuck: an old port. Barnabuck was essential for trade in the 18th century, particularly in the cattle industry. Important goods from the Hebrides were brought here to be taken onto the mainland, including some record of 2,000 cattle. In this business, the sea was something to be worked with/endured. We read Luke 8 to hear the story of Jesus calming the sea- who is he who has such power over even the waves?

Stop 6: Balliemore, the old schoolhouse. We read Romans 11:1-5 as we gathered around this old gothic schoolhouse built in 1872. This housed pupils until about the mid 90's: by then there were but two students left! While this has been a wonderful institution of learning for those in the remote community of Kerrera, we read Romans to note that the "wisdom" in discipleship can never be learned in an educational institution. Maybe not even an ecclesiastical one.

We had a good crowd to join us, and for those that fear fatigue, fear not: there was delicious food at the tea garden that day.

This is a route that we will continue to be working with in the future, with the hopes that those of you who find yourselves in these places enroute to Iona would consider a wee adventure around Oban- there's something to be found everywhere.