Who in their right mind would carry a larger than life size wooden cross across the highlands of Scotland?
You will be surprised, there is always a group of 20 to 30 people who do this every year during holy week in Easter. It may sound daunting at first but once you have done it, you really want to keep doing it every year.
Scottish Cross is a Christian pilgrimage group, that carries a cross during Holy Week, starting from either Loch Lomond or Fort William concluding on the island of Iona. It is rooted in the Catholic tradition but is resolutely open to all.
It is not a holiday, although the social side is wonderful. You make lifelong friends who not only share in an amazing experience, but who you really make a connection with. For the ten days you are with the group, they really become your family.
I suppose that is what a pilgrimage is about. It is a personal journey one make's, and every person has their own reasons for partaking. Some join because you can meet like-minded people, some join because of the security of the group whilst trekking in rough Scottish terrain. Others have a more profound reason, of the pilgrimage itself.
A pilgrimage is defined 'as a long journey embarked upon to search for one's purpose which concludes in a sacred or holy destination.' For me personally, I have participated in this journey twice, and had different reasons for joining.
The initial appeal was the 'group' collective, as the first time I joined there was nine of us from the Catholic Students Union who decided to do this pilgrimage. But as I embarked on this journey, I found myself reflecting on my own issues I had faced then. I truly made the most of the 'stations.' (Each member of the team had a few minutes at the start, middle and end of the days walk to share a personal reflection, either a prayer, poem or a personal testimony.)
The second time I decided to join, was to 'retreat' from everyday life, and I thought it best to do this within a safe environment, amongst a group of people who shared the Christian faith. This time's experience was very different. I think what I experienced was the the journey itself. I found peace and comfort from starting at one point and ending at the other.
The second pilgrimage, I found that the journey was more pronounced than the first was because of the adverse weather conditions we faced. Hence the journey became the highlight. Our river crossing was the most significant and I think that really gelled the group together. (The photo's don't give justice to the raging river we had to cross.)
One may see trekking up in the Scottish Highlands as a great holiday, and it is, but I think what Scottish Cross offers is something more substantial. It is a pilgrimage and like with your own faith journey, you just never know what you will gain from such an experience. though, a few things you can expect are meeting great people, having plenty of chats and experience God through the magnificent scenery and the fabulous people you meet.
If you want a challenge and experience the wonders of the Scottish Highlands, maybe you should decide to carry the cross and embark on this pilgrimage?