Still-to-come, coming…

I have been writing some things for an up and coming Aoradh Wilderness retreat. We are heading off to the McCormaig Islands at the head of Loch Sween in a few weeks- 12 of us this year, and so I have been preparing some resources.

Here is part of a set of dispatches…

You are wrapped up in me

And I am bound up in you


We are held together by soft binding

Like tender shoot and stake

Like gift and gift giver

Like mud and gentle rain

Like worn shoe and weary foot

Like hot tea and cracked pot


Like universe and all those flickering stars

Like ocean and rolling wave

Like field and each tender blade of grass


There is now

And there is our still-to-come





Tomorrow we set sail.

I am not quite sure what we will find when we land on Jura.

Neither am I quite sure how the whole social thing will work out- we are forming a temporary community of people who mostly do not know each other.

We are hoping to spend time seeking after God, but he can be so mysterious can’t he?

What I am reminded of is that old Celtic monastic tradition of peregrinatio, or ‘Holy voyaging’, which in practice meant to get in a boat, and simply to set sail. No destination planned, simply trusting to tide, wind and God. The destination of such a voyage was not geographical, but rather spiritual. The goal was to arrive at ones ‘place of resurrection.’ Arriving at journey’s end inevitably meant an actual physical place also however- and it is these places that still hold the memory of these voyages all over Argyll- in the place names, the folk lore, and also in the marks and mounds in the earth out on exposed headlands, or on tiny islands.

So, in anticipation of our own homecoming, I am going to re-post a poem that I wrote a few years ago, dedicated to that great voyaging monk, St Brendan

Lord stain me with salt

Brine me with the badge of the deep sea sailor

I have spent too long

On concrete ground.

If hope raises up these tattered sails

Will you send for me

A fair and steady wind?

Scarba- Aoradh wilderness trip…

(L to R) Simon R, Nick, David, Andy, Simon M and me

(L to R) Simon R, Nick, David, Andy, Simon M and me

I am just back from our visit to the beautiful Scarba

6 of us went out on Saturday, via a chartered boat from Ardfern. The intention was to find some space inside and out, and try out some of the wilderness meditations we have been working on (see here for a selection.)

Scarba is a small island Between Mull and Jura in the Inner Hebrides off the Argyll coastline. It is surrounded by some of the most dramatic tidal waters in the world. To the east is the Gulf of Corryvrecken, with it’s famous whirlpool. On the other side, the Grey dogs tidal race.

The forecast was rotten, but we had two glorious days, with the occasional shower making the sky and sea all the more dramatic. I have a sun burnt head as I forgot a hat!

We were camping, but had the use of a bothy for evenings and shelter- thanks to the owners of the Island for their generosity in letting us use it!

So we abseiled down cliffs, explored caves, scrambled over heather and bog, set up meditation walks, sat around fires, walked ancient mysterious flagged pathways, and stood on places where early Christian monks worshiped. The deer and wild goats watched from a distance, and overhead a Sea Eagle wheeled in the wind.

Oh and we laughed. We laughed a lot. Whiskey was shared and bad jokes honoured.

Single malt, smoke, sharing

Single malt, smoke, sharing

Part of my motivation for visiting places like this should be obvious from what I have already written. For me, however, there are other things driving me.

Men and spirituality.

Not easy bedfellows.

Men do lots of theological arguing, and perhaps like a nice new project. But setting time aside to seek God- this tends to be a rather alien thing. A huge generalisation I know- but one that may well have some truth.

So I set to wondering whether the problem was not we blokes and the curse of trying to be masculine in the post modern age, but rather the problem was the way the Christian church has anchored and shackled spirituality to a narrow set of activities within organised structures.

What if there are other ways- old and new ways that seek God in small adventures, and in wilderness, and in communing around fires with a good bottle?

Here are some photos from our trip (click to enlarge)…

WANTED- people ready for some small adventures…


So- a new year turns.

If you are like me, you will have been indulging in a little self examination- thinking about how life has been, and what possibilities the new year might bring.

Perhaps you have had thoughts of stepping out the old routines, and opening up some new things- finding new places, new connections and deeper spirituality.

Perhaps you are ready for some adventure. Small ones perhaps- not all of us are Bear Grylls!

Anyone fancy some fish by the way?

Assuming that this is not your fancy- how about joining us for trips into the wilderness to find something slightly more palatable?

If so, we at Aoradh would love to hear from you.

We are planning some trips out into the wild places hereabout- to find places where we can appreciate the beauty of the mountains and hills about us, and also to use some of these spaces for group and individual meditation. These will mostly be based within Argyll, Scotland- or in the Cowal Area, where we are based.

Nick and I have been working on some wilderness meditations- some of which are on the aoradh website- here. We would very much appreciate some folk who are willing to be our guinea pigs (or should I say, Red Squirrels) as we give them a wider road test.

As part of this, a few of us are planning a trip to a small uninhabited island on the bank holiday that begins Friday the 1st of May. We have not finally decided the venue for this yet- there are a couple of possibles, and it rather depends on transport. Past trips away have included trips to Coll, Little Cumbrae and the Garvellachs.

The format of these trips has been that people are prepared to be self supporting- with their own camping and back packing gear. We will then make our own small community for a weekend, in a beautiful, wild and uninhabited space.

For the weekend trip, there may be some transport costs- but that is all, we are not interested in profit- but rather in friendship with each other and a deeper relationship with God.

So we are clear about the legalities of this- we offer a partnership- not a package tour. You come at your own risk!

For those who need to be more organised- we have set some dates for later in the year when we hope to organise one day events- which will include a mediation around a ‘found’ space in the wilderness- caves, rivers, mountains etc.

16th May (Family weekend??)

20th June

18th July

19th September

24th October

contact me for more info!

Pull up a log- sit by the fire. The Kettle is on…