I have just returned from a pilgrimage to the UK where I was on the receiving end of so much hospitality! I led a 3-day conference called The Pilgrim Way for 18 clergywomen in Edinburgh, Scotland. The woman who originally envisioned this international event, and organized it, was Julie Woods. She took care of “all the things.” How inspiring to see her idea give birth to an event, years in the making! Here Julie and I are, in front of the priory ruins on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, which was a follow-on from the conference.
To back up a bit, I arrived in Scotland a few days early in order to get over jet lag, and was hosted by Liz Crumlish at her home in Ayr, on the western coast. Liz was the first Church of Scotland clergywoman to attend a RevGal Big Event cruise almost a decade ago, and it was her enthusiasm that persuaded more Scottish clergywomen to cross the pond year by year. I chose a picture of Liz laughing because she is always laughing.
After the conference in Edinburgh, 11 of us clergywomen participated in an optional follow-on, and actually practiced pilgrimage. We went to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, off the eastern coast of Great Britain, by train and taxi. You have to watch the tides just right to get to the island, as the causeway is covered twice each day. Rachel Poolman was our pilgrim guide. Rachel is the Warden of St. Cuthbert’s Centre on the island. Check out the Facebook page, and notice that St. Cuthbert’s has a bothy where pilgrims can stay. You know you’ve always wanted to stay in a pilgrim bothy.
Throughout the conference, the spirit of hospitality flowed freely (as did the wine, after hours, and a wee bit of gin!). To me, as speaker, the women gave copious gifts of attention, plus laughter in the right places. To each other, the women gave the gift of sharing stories, and hearing the tears, or questions, or laughter, that rested just behind those stories.
Below is a photo of the whole group as the conference began (don’t we all look fresh?), and below that is a pheeto — a feet photo — which is a RevGal tradition. When the RevGal blogring was formed in 2005, many of us blogged anonymously, so a pheeto was a safe way to preserve the memory of a gathering.
This was a historic event, the first international RevGals conference, and I am just so happy to have played a part in it. Thank you, pilgrims!