Ken has gotten a notion into his head to plan the perfect Knights Templar tour. He often comes up with ideas that lean toward the fanciful and then there is no further word about them. But this is an idea that continues to resurface, and last night he asked me to pull out my world atlas so that he could take a serious look at the geography of his plan.
The tour would, of course, include a stop at Rosslyn Chapel. The chapel is located outside of Edinburgh, Scotland, and when I couldn't locate it where I thought it was on the map, I headed to the internet for a precise pinpointing of this critical destination.
I was both right and wrong in recalling where it was. I haven't been there, but could have made the excursion on one of several trips I've taken to Scotland, including a semester during college as part of the "study abroad" program. I knew it was an easy day's excursion from the city. From the Rosslyn web site I clicked on the "get directions" portion of the page and was startled to see that Rosslyn is, in fact, a stone's throw from the perimeter highway that circles Edinburgh. More than that, it is incredibly close to the area where I lived while there as a student.
Learning of Rosslyn's locale was a pleasant surprise, but it came with a nostalgic twinge that I didn't anticipate as the map of Edinburgh came into focus. The street names grabbed my attention like the voice of a long lost friend. Images, impressions and experiences leaped to mind, and I was drawn quickly into memories that run deep and warm with a visceral connection to a place that I love. I felt a longing to be there, to ride the buses and walk the hilly streets, stop in at the pubs and linger in the parks. The smell of the breweries, far from fragrant, are as much a part of the sensory landscape as the distinctive accent and the glow of the afternoon light that paints the stone walls of the city's buildings with rich, brilliant color.
Connection to place is one of the human experiences that defies explanation, but I can attest that to this city and the countryside that extends north and south from it, I am deeply attached. There is a spiritual connection that transcends words, and a love for the rugged rocks and prickly blooms of the highlands that bid me welcome. There are the sheep, the cascading burns, and the lonely ruins that reverberate with the blood-soaked history of Scotland's modern peace. It is a place that from coast to coast and mountain to lowland draws me and nourishes me in a way no other place has ever done. It is home.
Once again I covet my connection to it: savoring the sweets of Clarinda's Tea Room on the High Street, drinking in the colors and patterns of tartans in the kilt shops, breathing in the aromatic scents of the Indian restaurants that dot the neighborhoods, and taking my place among the pedestrian traffic that makes its way from one part of the day to the next. It is all rich in my memory and feeds my soul in these days so far removed from their origins.
No matter the time and space that divide my life now from those months of incredible opportunity. There is a trip being planned. In due time, it will all be there to greet me again.