Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Final Thoughts from Iceland

I can tell you about just one site in Iceland and if I do it right all I’ll have to add is waterfalls.
Reykholt, a tiny village, not even a village anymore, near Borganes has almost everything we came to Iceland to experience. It has “hot pots,” or a thermal hot tub; a deep sense of history; both old and new educational opportunities and scenic beauty.
Our visit to Reykholt came during our fourth stop. First stop Keflavik, then Selfoss, then Hafnadfjordur, and then Borganes. Borganes is a thousand year old town, just slightly larger than my home of Lindsborg. The town was built on the site of Egil Skallgrimsson’s settlement. Like all of Iceland, it is a town steeped in history and more than willing to tell the story their part in the settlement of this ancient land.
On Tuesday, June 8, we travelled just a few kilometers out of Borganes to Hvanneyri  and the agricultural university there. It is an extremely small university, one of seven or eight “universities” in Iceland. There are only 300 students at the Agricultural University of Iceland, making it smaller than the smallest of our ACCK colleges.
From Hvanneyri we travelled inland along the fjord to the tiny village of Reykholt. There are probably 100 residents of the village, and on a high hill above the church is a beautiful school building, the former home economics school. In front of the school is a statue of Iceland’s greatest medieval writer and chieftain, Snorri Sturluson. This little village was the home Sturluson’s home – the home and the grave are beside the old church.
We were met at Reykholt by Pastor Geir Waage. Pastor Waage is an old school Catho-Lutheran clergyman. He began our visit with a lecture in the old church. The pews in this old church were older than old school. This part of the visit began with a long story about the coming of Christianity to Iceland in the year 1000. From there Pastor Waage gave us a second lecture on the coming of the Reformation to Iceland. Unlike the coming of Christianity in 1000, this change in religion resulted in death and violence – something we didn’t find out until we visited the church at Skalholt two weeks later. (After the arrival of Lutheranism in the 16th century, the last Roman Bishop was executed at Skalholt.)

(more in the next post)

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