Monday, June 13, 2011

An early run around a loch, a warm St. Margaret's welcome, and yet another reminder that the world is full of wonderful people......

The gentle mist on Forfar Loch, Angus, Scotland.
The best way I've found to deal with a little mild anxiety is...get up, get outside, and get running. As soon as the heart rate is on "cruise", which is about 132 bpm for me (on the flats), life begins to mellow. It was our first Sunday of the five week exchange at St. Margaret's Church in Scotland and, well, a run was important before engaging in the day's activities. 

The town was quiet at 6 am and the skies were clearing - it looked like we'd be seeing the sun again! We had both looked forward with great anticipation to "running around the loch" - and it was marvellous. The soft trail felt therapeutic beneath our Vibram FiveFingers - I was so thankful that we have learned to run without shoes. The connection with the earth is so energizing. 

We shared the trail, through the magical forest, with rabbits the size of small deer (well, almost), a variety of birds, several swans, and a most impressive snail who was clearly on a "mission". The loch was shrouded in a soft mist - it was a bit like running through a fairy tale. As the gentle mist slowly lifted, a boathouse appeared, the masts of sailboats revealed themselves, and a buoy reflected the warm rays of the rising sun.

St. Margaret's Church, Forfar, stands tall in the centre of town.
Refreshed from the run and feeling like we could actually spell our own names again - after a couple of days of exhausting jet-lag - we left for the church. What would these folks at St. Margaret's be like? Would we fit into the "culture" of the Church of Scotland? Would they even understand me? Would they be phoning my exchange partner, David, and asking him "What in heaven's name have you gotten us into here?!"

Cutting the delicious "welcome cake".
(The "wedding" cake was 38 years ago!)
Well, I needn't have worried. The folks of St. Margaret's were wonderful. Just like our special parish family back home, they were as excited about whatever was going to happen as we were - it was an "adventure for us all"! And I'm rather partial to folks who are up for an adventure...whether it's in a sea kayak, on the running trails, or in an international exchange such as this.

All went well, as it did for David back in Canada. Here are two, progressive, generous, and high-spirited families of faith that are making the world a better place with laughter and love - and a willingness to move into the future with confidence and hope. Both communities are daring to move beyond the usual "comfort zones", and in so doing, will continue to spread their warmth and hospitality far and wide.

The proverbial "icing on the cake" came at the end of the day when we finally mustered the courage to take to the roads with David and Catriona's superb VW Tiguan - the transition was smooth. Thankfully! :)

We're heading out to visit Glamis Castle, just five miles down the road - should have some pretty cool images to post next time!



  1. Pretty cool place to run! Good to see you relaxed and smiling with Joan.

  2. I was so thankful that we have learned to run without shoes
    when I was a kid my father always said me: take off your shoes and walk with barefeet, feel the earth. nowadays I understand why and I keep on walking ;). have a nice stay

  3. Thanks L, always seems the best way to get a feel for a place - self-propelled. Keeps fuel costs extremely low too! (So long as you don't count the chips, which are impossible to resisit!)

    I'm with you on that, Giovanni - your father's wisdom offers an important lesson on life. Whether it's running or gardening or paddling or just taking in the view, we so need to connect with this planet, on every level possible. It enriches us. Thank you, my friend. D.