How does one economise on a journey from Dalmally, near Oban, to Ayr - going via Moscow?
Very simple really. After East Kilbride, you take the A719 via the village of Moscow! At Craig Lodge, Dalmally, where Mary's Meals is based, it was splendid to stay in a beautiful room under the special protection of St Patrick (who i've seen more than once claimed for Scotland in the past couple of weeks). I also spent an extra night in a beehive cell, like those inhabited by the very earliest Christian missionaries to Scotland and Ireland, on the mountainside above Craig Lodge, reading part of St Adamnan's extraordinary Life of St Columba, and a short treatise on St Kessog. On the way down to my second visit to the David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre, there was outstanding free accommodation and hospitality from Rev Dane Sherrard, a Church of Scotland minister responsible for the above-mentioned account of St Kessog, who specialises in pilgrimage at Luss (a friend of my Dad's), and from Fr Willy Slavin, the parish priest of St Simon's church in Partick (a Scot who has in fact a better claim to be Bristolian than i have, being born and baptised in Filton). Every year there is a walk from St Simon's to Blantyre, to commemorate the inestimable help in learning Latin given to the young David Livingstone by Fr Daniel Gallagher, enabling him to matriculate as a student of medicine at the university of Glasgow. Something i learnt at his birthplace museum in Blantyre (for which Fr Slavin bought me a ticket), inclines me to believe very strongly that, even if the international media don't know anything about the walk i hope to do, Dr David Livingstone himself does. As a result of the extra night in Dalmally, i left there on Wednesday 1st of May - the 140th anniversary of the death of Dr Livingstone, in the early hours of May 1st 1873. Previously i had left Blantyre in the week of the 200th anniversary of his birth: 19th March 1813. Interestingly, both these dates are feasts of St Joseph, the foster father of Jesus. And here's where i do a bit of speculation. Scotland has very long established links to Malawi, dating from Dr Livingstone's journeying there in the 19th century, hence the place names Blantyre and Livingstonia. And there is no better single representative of these enduring ties than the work of Mary's Meals, originating there, and now helping a quarter of a million hungry schoolchildren in numerous countries around the world to receive a meal in their place of education . So i believe that Dr Livingstone is no less keen to tell the world about Mary's Meals than any of the tireless volunteers, employees and helpers who generously devote so much of their time and resources to it.
This journey is principally inspired by the film Child 31, which i cannot reccommend highly enough:
Apologies for being a bit remiss in keeping this blog up to date - and i only have a few more minutes in this library in Newton Stewart, Galloway. Thanks be to God however, the knee has been fine. I'm currently on my way, God-willing, to Whithorn, where St Ninian built Scotland's first ever church, dedicated to St Martin of Tours (a special Protector, with St Joseph and Dr Livingstone, of this pilgrimage) - and i now hope, with God's help, to continue not via England, but via Ireland.