My Heart's In The Highlands

'My heart's in the Highlands ...the birthplace of valour, the country of worth' Rabbie Burns.

Five of us have just begun some 'spiritual mapping' of the central Highlands of Scotland. We have tried to become prayerfully aware of routes trodden by past saints, centres of revival, places where God beckons through creation, and of contemporary signs of spiritual hunger, opportunity or enterprise. The first night we were guests of Doctors Isobel and John Gibson of Callender, which is the crossing place between the low and the high lands, and has been the rallying centre of clans. This was evangelised by Saint Kessog, son of Cashel's King, whose mound by the river we prayed upon. At the house we prayed late into the night, that they might be God's gatekeepers, that Callender might be a place of the Cross, where people cross from darkness to light, from falsehood to truth.

Then we travelled north to the House of Cantle for (, beside the Lough of Tay. This centre, founded by Jim McLeish, offers training to to senior staff of leading companies. Jim is also a coach to Christian leaders and churches.

From that base we went to routes along the river Tay and Glen Lyon which were once followed by brothers from Iona on their mission journeys and pilgrimages. We noted a monastery at Dull which became a seat of learning, and at other such places. We purchased books at Aberfeldy, whose name is said to refer to the confluence of the Tay with the burn where Feldy (Palladius) had a cell. Other places in this area are associated with Christians who came in the opposite direction north from Northumbria: St. Cedd at Fortingall, St. Chad at Logiarat, and St. Cuthbert at Weem. I reflected again whether Aidan chose that route when he brought his mission team from Iona to Northumbria. It is even possible that he stayed en route at Inchadney (Kenmore) and preached and discipled there. The Glen of Lyon is described as Scotland's 'longest, loneliest and loveliest glen' and we prayed that sheep of many human varieties might safely graze there under shepherds after God's heart. We prayed where Adomnan (commemorated locally as Eonan) set up a mill and cell, and were given warm hospitality in a home there.

Certain people have a dawning vision of some future 'Highland Cathedral' or Village of God: it would combine a Christian community with a rhythm of daily prayer and a rule of life. It would provide holistic healing and rehabilitation, and pe rhaps a centre for asylum seekers. Its people would be schooled in farmwork and permaculture and be humbled to learn from the earth and from the people around. It would spawn creative arts and train Christians to plant churches throughout the glens. It would be ecumenical and work with existing churches. Such a vision needs preparation.

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Posted at 00:49am on 26th March 2011
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