Saturday, December 10, 2016

Scotland for Twenty: The Church Interior and Ancient Henge

We gave the church door in Kilmartin a little push, and it opened. One thing I noticed about Scotland is that it seemed they are very trusting. They trust you to do the right thing. Church doors and castle doors are left open. Just take care of it, and shut the door when you leave, it seemed to say. CC kept saying, "Just give it a little push." for the rest of our time.

I loved that this church was still a meeting place each Sunday. I opened a hymnal and found "Soon and Very Soon." The church immediately brought back memories of my Granny's and Papa's church in Hillsville, Virginia. Likely renovated in the interior about the time their church was built, it had the exact look. The pews, the numbers for the attendance count, and the smell. Suddenly I was 5 years old, sitting by my Granny while the old ladies sang. Soon and Very Soon, we are going to see the King. As we decided to take our kids back to Scotland this Christmas for one last adventure before Firstborn flies away, I will take them in this church.

This cross was from the 9th century, taken from the graveyard and brought in for preservation.

We did a quick tour of the Kilmartin museum. The dear Scottish lady who sold us our tickets showed us her work schedule for Christmas so she could see if she would be working when we bring our children. So sweet! The museum was chock-full of interesting findings from this area. I snapped these pictures from the window inside.

We drove down the road just a bit. Some of the things we found were the result of a bit of investigative and map-studying work by CC. He wanted to see the ancient stones and henge.

And we found some! There are 350 ancient monuments all over this area...standing stones that somehow line up with solstices and burial cairns. I wondered at the rituals and superstitious beliefs that prevailed. It was a little odd to see them all lined up in a formation, so old and a little mysterious.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Scotland for Twenty: Kilmartin

I have so many favorite memories, but this was surely one. We drove out to Kilmartin, a further point still in the Campbell lands. We came upon this ancient church STILL IN USE! This present building was built in 1835, though earlier churches were built in its spot.

It was snowing. And we got out to walk around the graveyard. This was one of my favorite things we did. It was so beautiful and so moving.

Stone after stone spoke my soul. Who were these families? Did they expect these passings? Were they spiritually prepared? So many children and babies laid to rest here. Did the mother's grief ever ease? From what did they die?

Inside a small enclosure were some late medieval gravestones from the 14th-18th centuries. Here is one with an ancient spelling of our name.

These gravestones are unmarked with names, but were carved with such things as warriors, spears, swords, animals and lace patterns.

This may be my favorite picture I took on our trip. Crosses, vibrant colors in spite of the weathering process, and young sheep in the pasture behind.

There were a few more recent tombstones, such as this one, marking the death of a man just 4 days before my birth.

And the most fascinating thing to me was the STONE TABLES. This was C.S. Lewis' inspiration in Narnia, though I never realized it was such a thing. It is suggested they were placed upon the ground to prevent wolves from devouring the deceased. All I could think about was Aslan breaking the stone table in resurrection!

I think my favorite word I saw over and over was, "Beloved."

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Scotland for Twenty: If You Don't Like the Weather....

If you don't like the weather, just wait. It will change. This is what we'd heard in reference to Scotland's weather. And we found it to be true! In the course of an hour, we'd been through rain, sunshine, sleet, snow, and a wintery mix. (I personally love the description "wintery mix," and I use it far too often.)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Scotland for Twenty: Around the Lochs

I quickly learned that a "loch" in Scotland is a lake. How have I heard of the Loch Ness monster all my life and not know that? Our drives took us right along the lake shores for hours. You literally could not glance away for missing the beauty. It was breathtaking. There's no place I'd recommend more highly than Scotland! At one point, we came around a peninsula and into this little town.

I wanted to stop and find a restroom, so we got to get out of the car to take pictures!

Here are some panoramas I took.

And then I turned back around to find this chap. He was not decked out for a parade; he was just going to the bank for the day.

At the center of town was an old church. So many beautiful structures speaking of the worship of God.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Scotland for Twenty: The Drive!

We rented a little car. It was quite a change from our big diesel cargo van (converted to a passenger van)! It was fun to zip around, but I kept saying, "LEFT!" when we turned! Not the wrong side of the road, just the other side of the road!

Scotland was beautiful. The people of this land have much to be grateful for, and they live in such a way that you can quickly see they are both proud of and thankful for what they've been given.

I just never saw anything...ugly. It was all beautiful. Cottages with a fire set. Stone walls for fences. Sheep grazing. It was simply...lovely.

It was hard to find a place to pull over on these winding 2 lane roads. But it was also hard to get a picture while speeding along. At one point, we pulled into a driveway of a farm to get a picture. When CC pulled the car back around to get back on the road, the wheels just spun. A light rain had started and the grass was slick. Nothing seemed to get it to pull out. Finally, he insisted (I didn't want to) that I drive and let him push. It was my first time to drive with the gear shift on the left, but he told me to just go straight back. I did, he held the car, and we pulled out of it. I glanced up, and he was gone. Straight down on the ground! We got back on the road. He later told me it was his favorite memory of the trip. Just a wee problem we had!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Scotland for Twenty: On the Road

After a little exploring in the town of Inverary, we hit the road with CC driving and me yelling, "Left side!" every time we turned! The landscape was absolutely beautiful and soon we saw sprinklings of snow.

It was a gift for me to see Fall. It was so far north (further than I'd ever been) that I didn't think we would still see orange, yellow, and red, but we did!

Every place in the country was beautiful. I was impressed at the pride the Scots take in their land. Really, there were no reminders not to litter. They just don't do it.

I couldn't take pictures fast enough: mountains, snow, green, lakes, fall colors.

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