Thursday, January 12, 2012

Closing the Circle

Pat at the Tatoo

Sometimes in life something happens to us in such a miraculous way that it simply has to be shared. And thus it is that I’m writing this article to share with my St. Paul’s Family.

I recently took a trip to Scotland. I was able to check something off my “Bucket List”, which was to attend The Edinburgh Military Tattoo. It was such a magnificent show; bagpipes drum and bugle corps, highland dancing, and all done with the Castle as the backdrop. I hope you all get a chance to watch it when it is shown on PBS.

But the main reason I made this trip was to scatter my Father’s ashes over his beloved Orkney.

Orkney is a group of islands north east of mainland Scotland. Dad was born there and although moved away when he was young he always talked about his memories of summers and holidays spent in Kirkwall, the major city in Orkney. He told me that he wanted to have his ashes scattered over Kirkwall, so in 1990, Dad, my sister Jean, and I took a “Beat the Ashes” trip so he could show us himself the place he called Home. Watching our 80 year of father grow younger before our eyes as he stepped off the plane was such a joy. Everywhere we went he had wonderful stories to share with Jean and me. And it soon became evident why he loved it so much. It is truly a magical place and it was a trip of a lifetime.

Dad died in 2000 and since my sister was unable to fly to Scotland, she wanted to keep the ashes in her home. With her passing in February I knew it was time to take him Home. This time, however, I seemed to have additional anxiety about the trip. I know that several of you were praying about the concerns I had with getting Dad’s ashes through security, as well as the unknown once I was there. The power of prayer was so evident from the moment I arrived at Lindberg Field. It’s as though God sent down His band of angels to accompany me on my journey. There were never any problems, only a great deal of care and compassion shown to me as I traveled with the ashes. Thank you all for your prayers!

St Magnus
Once I got to Kirkwall, I met Rev. Fraser McNaughton, minister of St. Magnus Cathedral where my father was christened one hundred years ago. We had corresponded through email, but I had no idea what to expect. He couldn’t have been more wonderful, definitely another angel sent for this special moment in time.

 St. Magnus Cathedral was built in the 12 century and is a magnificent building of rose colored sandstone with magnificent stained glass windows and intricate stone work throughout. It is Church of Scotland, thus Presbyterian, but I certainly didn’t hold that against him. It is a major tourist attraction and thus filled with tourists most of the day. Dad’s ashes were placed on the lovely communion table along side a beautifully carved Viking ship below the Rosetta window. Unfortunately the ashes were in a clear Tupperware container as required by the TSA. A bit out of place, but I’m quite sure dad wouldn’t have minded.

The Rev. Fraser McNaughton
Since the cathedral was filled with tourists, Fraser (he’s a first name kind of guy just like our Scott) announced that we will be blessing the ashes of a man who was born in Orkney, settled in California, and wished that his hashes be scattered here. I heard a sign the crowd hushed, sat down, and became part of the service. A candle was lit, the most perfect words were spoken as if he’d known dad personally, and a perfect poem and lovely prayer finished the service. It was more than I had ever expected or could have orchestrated. Fraser drove us to a spectacular sight, high above the city, overlooking the sea, where he again said the most perfect words and I threw Dad’s ashes into the Orkney wind. At that very moment I could feel his spirit soaring and he was truly free to roam the glens of home!! It was more than I had expected or could have ever orchestrated. This was God’s work; there was no doubt about it. Yes, it was a perfect day and the circle of life was complete.

Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, Scotland

I am so glad that Dad shared his heritage with me and appreciate more than ever the need to pass that on to the next generation. I felt as though my roots had grown deeper and stronger, thus enabling me to stand tall against any harsh winds of time. To those of you who have knowledge of your family tree, pass it onto the future generations. This simply shouldn’t be lost.

-Pat Kreder


Anonymous said...

What a lovely remembrance! Thank you so much for sharing, Pat. I think it's very important to pass this sort of thing along--quite inspiring! You make me want to see Orkney... and drink a dram to your Dad. :-)

-Lisa Churchill

Donna Turner said...

What a touching story! Thank you for sharing it. I have roots in Scotland too - it makes me want to go there even more. I commend you for following through on such a long, but rewarding process.