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Monday, 28 February 2011

Wee Folk - many folk

The tour begins again for Jennifer, Charles and their daughters.

Jenn has been at a workshop in Glasgow for the last few days, Living in the Heart, and the family have been experiencing the city.

We picked them up this morning and traveled east to Rosslyn Chapel.  There we met with the workshop friends and the host, Ron Laplace.  A grand bunch of people with big hearts and bigger smiles.

I had not been to the chapel for many years.  It now sits under its own roof, not the temporary one that was in place, like a big steel gazebo, for 14 years.

A photo would have been good, but tour guided-error left the camera in the van.  I've noticed the camera doesn't work very well under such conditions.  Sorry about that.

The place is much changed.  We were blessed to be present when a prayer ceremony took place.  The pews were full with visitors amidst red and white barriers to keep people falling into the open holes left by the workmen who are still working away on the fabric.  They could be heard outside banging lumps of metal together and shuffling quietly through the seated throng sporting hi-viz vests and tool boxes.  Quite an incongruous energy at first glance until the little old lady reading out the prayer requests calls for healing for a family, whose father is one of the workmen on the chapel.  Brought it all together.

The new lead roof on the chapel is very fine and apparently a lot better than the original one that leaked, so the curator says, since the beginning in the 13-14th century.  Our guests enjoyed it, more so for being able to share it with friends.  Perhaps we'll hear from them in their own words later.

From there we headed down into the Glenn that the chapel sits above.  Ron Laplace's guests and all.

It's more of a gorge than a glen, with shear sandstone cliffs at some points.  The place is full of native trees and today had warm sunlight dappling the river over a hundred feet below the rim.  There is an ancient quality, a human quality even, to the glen.  Perhaps the presence of hand cut caves into the sandstone and old monastic walls in the fields above give the impression of a place of much sacred daily life, only recently grown over.

I led us down and then along the river finally coming up beneath the Rosslyn Castle.  From this angle it looks more like a castle in Transalvania or Wallachia, perched on the gorge face, trees encroaching.

The imposing stone was softened by the wild garlic that is just coming into leaf all around the castle on the slopes below.  Their bright green blade-like leaves shone in the sun beneath the leafless trees.  The smell was clear and refreshing.

This evening the girls were awed by having late lunch /dinner in another castle.  "It's like, a real castle", said Assata.  "It is a real castle", came the reply.
"So how old is it?" she asked.  "Well bits in the middle are about 700 years old, but this bit here by the door is quite young, maybe only three or four hundred."
"Yeh," she said, looking a bit non-plussed, "only three or four hundred."

I have performed a couple of weddings here and I told the story over dinner of the couple who wanted their rings delivered to the altar by an owl.  I raised an eyebrow at this one when they sprung it on me half an hour before the ceremony.

As we called for the rings in the wedding, I wasn't much surprised when the owl did not fly down the isle as trained but veered off and crashed into the pews.  A long minute of self containment passed before the poor bird finally hopped up onto the best man's gauntlet and the rings were retrieved. 

Tonight we are sleeping in an old smiddy, deep in the Highlands.  Water rushes by, courtesy of the falls outside the house.  The place is surrounded by trees and it's below freezing.  Math gu dearbh! (Good indeed!)

Scot

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