Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Volcano change of plans!

You cannot imagine how surprised I am to still be in the UK.

Early in March I'd been stewing about what to do for my last week of con-ed before the end of June. My friend and colleague Rev. Shannon Mang, who was to begin a sabbatical after Easter, strongly suggested I travel with her to Iona, for a week on building community in congregations, with John Bell. I didn't think it would be possible, but began to explore with M&P. I'd need extra time to travel, and I asked for a few days from my 'in lieu time' to look around Scotland. M&P said 'Yes! Go!'

The time between the decison and departure flew by so fast my brian really hadn't caught up. Every day at Iona I pinched myself and said 'Thank you!!' to Shannon, for her part in getting me to this remote Scottish Island. I'll try to to write more about what I've learned there in future posts.

Thursday, last week, an ancient Volcano was awoken in the land of my ancestors. On Friday, all the airports in the UK closed, and many in our group at Iona - from Canada, the U.S., Sweden, the Netherlands, and the UK, found ourselves facing uncertainty for a homeward journey. What has happened since then has been surprising, frustrating, wonderful, and full of grace.

Our Iona group travelled from the island, across Mull, and boarded a second ferry to the mainland. Shannon and I were refreshed, inspired, invigorated. We spend an afternoon in Oban, on the coast, and then spent the night in Glasgow, with a new friend, Maggie, who graciously opened her home to us. We then continued with our plans, which was to spend two nights in Edinburgh. At church there, Sunday morning, we met some of our friends from Sweden, and, as we were welcomed by the welcome team of the church, we also were invited by one member to stay in her home, if we found ourselves stranded in Scotland. She gave us her address and phone number and a warm welcome of friendship and support.

On Monday came the news: our flights for Tuesday from Glasgow to Heathrow, and then my flight home to Calgary were cancelled. Shannon's son's Grade 12 graduation trip was also cancelled. We, along with so many others, were facing a change of plans. Travel agents were as perplexed as we about what to do. I've been able to re-book with the airlines in the first seats available to me, which leave at the crack of dawn Sunday morning. Only God, and the volcano - know if the flights will take off.

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