Thursday, May 19, 2016
There’s no doubt about it: touring is grueling.
When we were preparing for this journey, I cautioned the Folk Choir that, at best, they would be doing four things in simultaneous fashion: 1) being choristers, 2) being guests in the homes of host families, 3) being ambassadors for the University of Notre Dame (and, consequently, of the Catholic faith), and 4) being tourists. Each of them places demands on people’s time, energy, presence, and general disposition.
And it should not be lost on anyone that some personality types thrive on a cramped bus, while others (notably introverts like myself) find parts of their soul screaming for help by day four.
So, when we were designing this pilgrimage, we received wise counsel from our collaborators in Edinburgh to get off the grid soon into our trip.
It’s not hard to achieve this kind of social- and Internet-disappearing act when you’re in Scotland. Just head north from Edinburgh, and after not too many kilometers you’re in the Argyll Highlands.
That’s where we were on Thursday – deep in the heart of the highlands, only a half hour away from Loch Ness and Loch Lomond, surrounded by far more sheep than human beings, in a perfectly cozy and spectacular Catholic retreat house named Craig Lodge.
Craig Lodge is operated by an intentional community of lay people who live together, keep this facility humming, and provide a spiritual oasis in the midst of a very busy and increasingly secular society. Even after just a few days, we were exhausted after the crossing of the Atlantic and the plunging into the parochial landscape of Scotland.
It was a much-needed break. The choir had ample time to sleep, to walk, to read, to pray. We celebrated Mass together, filling the church with song, and sharing our sacred song with the dedicated staff of the retreat house.
The grid will be waiting for us when we return (hence the tardiness of this post). But for now, the serenity and calm of this place is a welcome sabbatical.
Tomorrow, we head back to Edinburgh.