Today, while touring through the Edinburgh Castle, I came across some words inscribed in the entrance of the Scottish National War Memorial, located in the old church on the top of the fortress. The words stood out in the somber memorial to the fallen men and women that have fought for freedom around the world:
Our soul is escaped even as a bird out of the snare of the fowler; The snare is broken and we are delivered.
The Above quote is Psalm 124:7 according to my dear friend Reuben.
I’ve been traveling around Scotland with several members of my extended family (there are 15 of the Kerr Clan on this trip) and another 30 other individuals on our tour bus. We’ve been traveling around Scotland, learning the history of this majestic land and visiting sites of battles fought long ago, ruins of places that once were, and castles that hold together the stories of tales long ago.
This is the land of mystery, fairies, and legends. The landscape is one of fantasy and of awe inspiring mysticism. There are stories here that have been forgotten, and you can feel them in your bones as you move through the lands.
This is a land of lost wonders. Of nature reclaiming the land that has been abandoned and the walls that can no longer hold back the siege of time. Ruins litter the landscape, revealing a past of warriors and nobles, the reign of kings and lords of the land.
This is the land where faith lives. While the runes and ancient ways have been lost throughout time, we find that the land moves to the drumbeat of a rhythm that moves the soul. It is the land of religion and faith, knowledge and wisdom.
Scotland is a beautiful place, from it’s rolling hills to the highland peaks, lochs (lakes) and rivers to woodland forests that are scattered across the land. It consists of castles and ruins, light and shadows that dance across the face of the mountains.
As we entered onto the battlefield of Culloden, where the last of the Jacobite rebellions fell alongside the hundreds of warriors who lost their lives within hours of the fighting, a quote lined the wall:
‘S i’n fhuil bha’n cuisl’ ar sinnsreadh,
‘S an insgin a bha nan aigne …
It is translated as “Our blood is still our fathers, And ours the valour of their hearts.”
This is the land of the clan of my ancestors. And somehow, I feel like the warriors of the past are still walking through the knee high grasses and over the purple hills of the highlands.
Our tour guide shared with us a story of the creation and of how Heather, the purple flower that covers the highlands, came to be:
In the beginning, as God was creating the world, he looked over the land and all was good, except for the grey highland hills that covered Scotland. He frowned and decided to seek out the great plants of the world to grace the rocky mountain slopes.
God first approached the great, wise Oak with his deep roots, and asked if he would cover the mountains with his branches and leaves. After some time, as the Oak was very wise and not quick to make a decision, he declined, telling God; “The soil is not good for these roots of mine. It is too shallow and I will surely topple when the winds come across the mountains.”
God next turned to the Rose, the most beautiful of the flowers. When he asked, the rose quickly replied: “The mountains of the north are too cold for my delicate petals; I would surely wither and die.”
God then turned to the Honeysuckle, with its fragrant scent and spreading vines. Surely it would grace the mountain sides. After peering into the distance, the Honeysuckle turned to God and responded: “I’m sorry, God, but if I were to move up to the mountains, the wind would surely sweep away the beauty of my offerings and it would be lost.”
Out of options, God turned to the Heather and asked if she would be willing to grace the mountains of the Highlands. The Heather bowed and answered: “If you wish for me to grace the mountains, I will go.”
So, the Heather spread over the rocks and peaks, and for her willingness to serve, God gifted the Heather with strong, deep roots that hold fast to the mountainside, a strong, robust will to survive the cold winters of Scotland, and a fragrance that is pure and strong that fills the wind of the mountains with its sweet scent.
There are lessons that we can all learn from the history, myths and legends of the mountains. I know I will be taking these memories back to the States with me, as inspiration, encouragement, and lessons to pass on to those willing to listen.
God Bless and PEACE