In Inverness-Shire, Scotland, near a tiny hamlet named Blarmafoldach, stands a stone cairn erected 200 years ago to commemorate the end of the battle between the Macdonald and Campbell clans. It was intended to promote eternal friendship between the clans. The original objective was short-lived. As a result, since the beginning, a passing Macdonald would add a stone to honor his clan’s victory, but a Campbell would dourly knock one off out of frustration for his clan’s defeat.
Recently, knowing I was to visit that part of Scotland, my friend Jean Macdonald Porter gave me a small stone from her rock garden and asked me to add it to the cairn and bring back a photo of it. The road to the cairn was rough, but as I had a friendly girl from my hotel accompany me as a photographer and guide, I had no trouble reaching the cairn.
I placed the stone on the cairn, and she took a picture. Then she said, “Now it’s my turn. I didn’t tell you, but my mother was a Campbell!” The next thing I knew, she was knocking off the topmost stone, the one I had placed moments earlier.
From the moment she had accepted my request for her to accompany me, she had pondered over how to give me the full experience of the traditional ceremony. And she had chosen the most effective timing to do it!