Increasingly I try to listen to my intuition and heed those inner promptings, even if it means a radical change of plan and possibly a course of action that might prove immensely challenging and uncomfortable.
I’d longed to head home to family and friends, going so far as booking my ticket, when that small voice within became too loud to ignore, prompting me to lace up my shoes once more. I resolved to walk from Glastonbury to Iona as part of the Findhorn community’s 50th Birthday celebrations.
Fondly imagining this would be easy, I didn’t reckon on the role Mother Nature would play: Britain was being lashed by ferocious storms and meteorologists reported the wettest English weather in more than a century. It deﬁnitely was not ideal to be a walking pilgrim and especially one whose limited budget necessitated lots of wild camping.
And yet I suspect we always get what we need, rather than want.
Having committed to the idea of linking the spiritual centres of Findhorn, Glastonbury and Iona with my footsteps, I ﬁlled a bottle with holy water at Chalice Well in Glastonbury and set off to the familiar clicking rhythm of my trekking poles.
Weeks later the water would be sprinkled as a prayer and a blessing.
A pilgrim accepts whatever is and tries to make each footstep a loving prayer of gratitude and celebration.
Whenever shadows of misery threatened to darken my world, Nature would put on a show, be it diamond droplets of water glinting in the light, the music of a stream cutting across my path or the songs of birds that refuse to have their enthusiasm dampened by perpetual rain. And there were people – irrepressible dog-walkers, narrowboat owners and local villagers – who uplifted and inspired me, ﬁlling me with hope for humanity.
Knocking on the door of The Schoolhouse B&B at Pennyghael, midway across Mull, I was warmly greeted by Joy and Gren Roberts and their son Carl. “We were just talking about you and wondering where you were and how you were doing.” I’d spent my ﬁrst pilgrim night with them 13 months earlier.
There was a deﬁnite spring in my step as I headed for Iona Hostel, which has been named Scotland’s best Eco hostel. I stayed here with my daughters Bonnie and Tammy before the start of my walk and was shown great kindness by farmer-proprieter John Maclean.
I’d paid a 50% deposit and when I tried to pay the rest, John insisted: “Put it towards your pilgrimage.”
My intention was simply to thank him for that kindness which set the tone for the next year, and to offer him a gift of my book Lost and Found. Instead he was adamant: “Be my guest tonight and I’ll buy the book.”
Visiting the nearby Traigh Bhan retreat centre, which is an extension of the Findhorn Foundation community, I was welcomed to tea and scones by custodian Niels Paulsen and the retreatants.
Niels then performed a beautiful ceremony in which he placed some holy water alongside the candle and ﬂower arrangement in the meditation room, leaving it to evaporate and infuse its surroundings.
Another ferry ride and circuitous walk saw me arrive at the lighthouse engineers’ cottages on neighbouring Erraid. The island is owned by a Dutch family and I’d been warned that today I’d ﬁnd it deserted, instead delighting in the unexpected appearance of Erraid focaliser Roger Thorner.
“If you’d been half an hour earlier or later, there’d have been no-one here,” he mused. It was meant to be.
Roger sprinkled Glastonbury water on the Wishing Stone, which I’d last visited with my daughters when I reconﬁrmed my intentions for the pilgrimage walk and hoped for a safe return. All my prayers had been answered.
At Findhorn I called on 92-year-old co-founder Dorothy Maclean and made her a present of my book, while she gave me a copy of her newly published Messages from God. The next day Dorothy delighted in pouring water into the ﬂower arrangement in The Park Sanctuary and on some of the plants outside the community’s spiritual nucleus.
That left one important destination and I felt a familiar thrill arriving at the former Cluny Hill hotel that had been managed by Peter Caddy and his wife Eileen, forming an important part of the early Findhorn history. Today it is home to a number of staff and offers educational programmes and distinctive and characterful guest accommodation.
Recognising that we are all pilgrims walking our individual paths, Sanctuary focaliser Micaela Aminoff welcomed me and paid tribute to the journey of humanity and their planet during 2012.
Micaela honoured the pioneering work of the founders and community, and said prayers for the best possible outcomes as Findhorn approaches its half century milestone on November 17.
It felt wonderful to re-connect with this loving and open-hearted community.