Before it was the birthplace of golf or the home of Scotland’s oldest university, St Andrews was a place of holy pilgrimage. The magnificent cathedral which once marked the end of the journey for thousands of medieval pilgrims is no longer standing, the original relics of Saint Andrew have been lost, but the place retains an air of the hope which drew so many to this remote fishing town on the North Sea. In St Andrews, each stunning sunrise and the serene tombs huddled around what remains the cathedral awaiting the first rays of dawn remind one that this place is not really the end of the journey but a place where faith in God’s promises is renewed by beauty, education, and fellowship. Faith is renewed, and the continual pilgrimage we call life surges onward.
As much as I have loved my studies at the University of St Andrews, the friendships and faith I gained during my time there are the things which have cast a special brilliance on these years and made them some of best of my life. Nowhere were friendship and faith found more readily than within the walls of Canmore, the chaplaincy were I truly made myself at home. Nowhere do the cups of tea flow so abundantly, the laughs roll on so heartily, the food left unlabelled in the fridge disappear so quickly, and the pure kindness flourish so completely as in Canmore. The place is always abuzz with activity. There, I have been blessed with friendships so joyful and sincere that they defy any description I could offer. Such precious friendships are the greatest of gifts and are not left behind without tears. I wish I could stay in St Andrews with the same dear friends and never leave, but all of us still have further to go on our journey. Our paths may diverge, yet we are all bound for the same destination where we will certainly be together forever.
So, this leg of the pilgrimage, this chapter has come to an end. What a stirring and pivotal chapter it has been! What a flurry of pleasant walks, essay deadlines, chaplaincy potluck suppers, academic family outings, cups of coffee with friends, committee meetings, lectures, board game nights, trips to the grocery store – in retrospect it all seems like the remembered blur of a Scottish ceilidh when the breathless dancers finally take their rest with the band’s closing chord, a whirl of mirthful movements set to the regular rhythm of each week’s routine. In the company of friends, there, I learned to dance along the pilgrim’s path rejoicing to have such fine companions at my side and such promises lying ahead. Going forward, I will never forget the joys of St Andrews and will always, always share the kindness, friendship, and faith I found there in whatever way I can. God bless St Andrews and Canmore, a little glimpse of heaven.