|The Celtic cross, with its circle behind the cross beams, symbolizes the eternity of God.|
May those who love us, love us,
And those who don't love us,
May God turn their hearts;
And if He doesn't turn their hearts
May he turn their ankles
So we'll know them by their limping.
(old Celtic blessing)
The trip was a class for some, and business for several others. So I probably shouldn’t mention that it was fun. The IRS or the academic vice president might take exception to our claims.
|The Celtic Britain tour group visited a church in Dublin, Ireland.|
The Celtic Britain 2001 tour, June 18 to July 3, was offered for academic credit in both religion and English departments. Students researched and wrote papers before the trip, and presented them from the jump seat at the front of the coach. Non-academic tour members were educated right along with the students. There were twenty-two tour members, including directors Dorothy Minchin Comm, PhD, professor of English, and John Jones, PhD, professor and dean of the School of Religion.
We were an eclectic bunch: retired medical missionaries, university grad students, the two directors of the LSU Women’s Resource Center, elementary school teachers, nurses, an actor, musicians, history buffs. Seasoned travelers and first-timers. One had hardly been out of her small town, and was terrified of her first trip on a ferry across the Irish Sea. Soon she was savoring the sea air, something like Funny Girl singing, "Don’t rain on my parade," thanks to the helpful and encouraging attitude of her new friends. Some of us stayed grouped together in twos or threes, others ran out the door alone.
|Kit Watts and Penny Shell enjoyed the summer solstice at Tintagel, Cornwall.|
Our mission was to walk in the footsteps of the Celtic saints, David of Wales, Bridget, Patrick, Ciaran, Columcille/Columba, Brendan the Navigator, Cuthbert, and many others. Those footsteps included the monasteries at Clonfert and Clonmacnoise, Glastonbury, Iona and Lindisfarne, Downpatrick, and Glendalough, as well as the tiny 1600 year-old drymasonry oratory of Gallarus. The saints, of course, have many miraculous and (frankly too-fabulous) legendary feats attributed to them. In fact, they were pioneer missionaries to the pagan Celtic and Saxon settlers in the British Isles. They fearlessly risked their lives to preach the Gospel to some very wild, sometimes savage pagans!
|1600-year-old Gallarus Oratory, Dingle, Ireland.|
We found the tiny Adventist church, literally in the shadow of the large Bath Abbey. We worshiped with fellow believers in churches in Dublin and Edinburgh. Members of the tour took parts of the services there, giving prayer or special music, and even the sermon. We had devotions on the coach, rolling across the green, sheep-dotted moors of Cornwall, past the Norman keeps and church towers of Wales, and the medieval city walls of Ireland. I committed myself to silently praying before the altar of every church or cathedral or abbey that we visited.
|"Wear British Wool: 40 Million Sheep Can't Be Wrong," said a bumper sticker. Island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland.|
|Chi-Ro carpet page from Book of Kells|
The trip was a religious experience for all of us, at some points. Who could not be impressed by the dedication of the pioneer missionaries and saints? Who could not hear God in the organ of a colossal cathedral or the peace of an ancient churchyard on Iona? Who could fail to see His handiwork in a brilliant rainbow shining over a Scottish loch? Who could miss the symbolism of a white dove perched on the stone arch of a ruined abbey?
But one could not ignore the anticipatory shiver as the bagpipers marched through the gates at Edinburgh Castle, the thrill of the chill wind and stray rain drops in your hair as you coasted on a rented bike down a hillside, or the growling stomach when it was overdue for that Cornish pasty you promised it three hours ago. Answering your email from an Internet café in Cork, Ireland, has a certain boast built in ("I’m in Ireland, and you’re not"), even if you try to sound humble!
You could find your own joys and shivers and introspective moments, even plenty of Kodak moments, on other trips offered by La Sierra University. This year , the University sponsored trips to South America, South Africa, the Mediterranean, the Holy Land. Modern Languages sent students to Paris and Central America. In 2002, LSU President Lawrence T. Geraty, director of the Madaba Plains Project, will lead an archaeological dig in Jordan. (I’m planning on that one!) And there will be others, as well. How about China and Asia? You’ll learn as much from your own and fellow students’ experiences as you do from the professors who are expert in their fields.
|Glendalough, Republic of Ireland|
I’m afraid those modern Britons knew me by my limping, but it wasn’t my unloving attitude. (It was my 1982 accident.) This was a journey I’ve wanted to make since I was a teenager, and that was several dog-years ago. I can hardly wait for Jordan in July 2002. Maybe Israel or St. Paul’s journeys the year after. There are still blank pages in my passport, and I can buy new tips for my walking stick!
Here are the four sections of the Celtic Britain travel journal: