Next to Appin is one of the most famous views in Scotland, that of Castle Stalker (the picture isn’t the best at showing that castle we were taking sunset pictures). Beyond Castle Stalker is a place called Port Appin.
It’s called Port Appin because it’s the port on the mainland where goods travelled across to the island of Lismore. The whole areas is packed with history, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about in this post. Today the port is little more than a small jetty from where the small Lismore to Port Appin passenger ferry travels.
While on holiday we decided that it would be fun to hire some bikes in Port Appin, to get on the ferry to Lismore and to cycle on the island.
Hiring bikes was an experience in itself. As we drove into Port Appin there was a small sign saying "Bike Hire" pointing us down a street of houses. Another sign outside one of these houses saying "ring the bell at the back door" told us that we were in the right place. Sure enough, having rung the bell we were shown into a large a shed full of bikes for hire.
There were six of us and some were more seasoned cyclists than others. So it was with a certain level of excitement and trepidation that we cycles the short distance to the ferry.
There seems to be a law that wherever you go in the world the people running things are never the local people. I’ve many examples of this, in this case the man taking the money on the ferry was from New Zealand. He lifted the bikes over the hand rail around the ferry and stacked them in the small area at the front. We made our way down into the wooden cabin where we paid the small fee for the crossing and got to know one of the locals who seemed to be on his way back from a shopping trip. Those few minutes spent chatting were lovely and soon we were on the other side. We had also managed to get the most important information – the location of the one and only cafe on the island.
Having been offloaded by our Kiwi friend we set off cycling along the side of the beach on the one and only road on the island. The sun was shining, the countryside was beautiful and the air was fresh.
Eventually the road left the shoreline and started to climb into the middle of Lismore. It was at this point that the chain on Sue’s bike started to slip making it difficult for her to climb. For a number of reasons we decided that the best thing was for us to swap bikes. Both bikes had quick release bolts on the seats and mine would go low enough for Sue to ride it, and Sue’s would go high enough so off we set again.
Not much further along though I noticed that the peddle under my left foot was starting to wobble and the wobble was getting worse. I ignored it for a while, but eventually decided that I need to stop and have a look. As I stepped off the peddle and the crank arm that it was connect to fell off in my hands. I was stood looking at this bike wondering what I was going to do when another cyclist off the ferry stopped and offered assistance. He had a tool in his small bag on his bike and it enabled me to tighten the bolt a bit and go on my way. Good Samaritan #1.
It wasn’t long, though, before the bolt started working loose again. This time I’d made it as far as a farm. I went into the farmyard, found some people and asked if I could borrow a socket set. Without flinching the farmer went into one of the sheds, came out with a well used set of sockets and handed it to me. It was just what I need and got the bolt a lot tighter than the first time around. Good Samaritan #2.
We’d cycled half way along the island by now and some of the group were getting to the point where they thought that back to the ferry was the right way to go. Emily and I decided that while they finished off there lunch we’d explore a little further. Unfortunately during this exploring the crank arm started working loose again, the bolt had been threaded at some point and there was no way it was going to stay fast.
We meandered back to the cafe picking up the rest of the group headed towards the ferry and the farm. This time the farmer wasn’t there, but his wife was. She’d been around the first time and I asked her if it was possible to borrow the socket set again. She told that if I knew where it was to help myself, which I did with a smile on my face. Good Samaritan #3.
This time the threading had completely gone and there was no way that the bolt way staying in. In my youth I would have just scooted on the bike with one leg on the remaining peddle and my other foot pushing me along, but somewhere an the last 30 years I’ve lost that ability. I did, however, manage a reasonable method of walking up the hills and sailing freewheeling down them. After all we were on our way down to the ferry, so there was more decent than assent.
It was getting near to the time when the next ferry would be leaving and there was an hour between trips. Some of the group went ahead to see how far it was and whether I would make it walking and freewheeling.
When they got there our friend from New Zealand told them not to worry and that the ferry would leave when I had arrived. Good Samaritan #4.
As we sat eating our meal that evening we all agreed it had been a brilliant day, a day of beauty, a day of sunshine, a day of nature, a day of history, a day of community. I sat and gave thanks for Good Samaritans.
Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. "Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?"
He answered, "What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?"
He said, "That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbour as well as you do yourself."
"Good answer!" said Jesus. "Do it and you’ll live."
Looking for a loophole, he asked, "And just how would you define ‘neighbour’?"
Jesus answered by telling a story. "There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.
"A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’
"What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbour to the man attacked by robbers?"
"The one who treated him kindly," the religion scholar responded.
Jesus said, "Go and do the same."