We visited Scotland recently, and I left for home enchanted by the history, the culture, the architecture and the story of the people of that beautiful country.
One place we visited was St Andrews Cathedral, in its time one of the centers of religious life in Europe, and the largest church in Scotland. After the Scottish Reformation in the 1500s (!), the church was sacked, looted and abandoned. The remaining ruins are cared for by the Scottish government as a heritage site. St. Andrews Castle is nearby, at one time the seat of the Catholic cardinal and site of a prison holding religious reformers. From the distance of time, we see the relatively static after-effects of the Reformation, but looking into the history, many people gave their lives at the stake over hundreds of years in places like St. Andrews.
I’m captivated by the depth of the recorded history that has so much to tell. While in Edinburgh, I bought biographies of John Knox and Mary, Queen of Scots, two important and colorful characters in Scottish history, and I can’t wait to dig into those books. Knox was a leader of the Scottish Reformation, had run-ins with the Catholic establishment at St. Andrews and elsewhere, and actually precipitated some of the events that led to the Cathedral’s ruin. Mary, Queen of Scots ruled Scotland at the time, and as a Catholic, she and Knox had several in-person confrontations. Mary’s story is one of intrigue, wonder and tragedy.
I also experienced a personal moment of mystery while at St. Andrews Cathedral, and I’m still puzzling out its potential meaning. While at contemplating the beauty, cruelty, and ultimate impermanence of Man’s works here on this Earth, I was anointed, on the right side of the head and across the back, by a seagull.