a priest's musings on the journey

Monday, March 31, 2008

Day 5 Pilgrimage to Iona

Today was our last day on Iona. All that I had heard about the mystical quality of the "thin places" on this island are true, and I struggle with the idea of leaving and returning to life as it had been. There was something so attractive about the these days- not only the solitude and beauty of the island and a more intense awareness of my participation in the Communion of Saints, but the simplicity of living. I had lived these days unplugged from television, the cell phone and internet. All of these things were available to me if I needed them, but I was able to be free from them as well. Even mealtime was more sacred, surely because we prepared our food and ate in community - lingering over the table chatting and playing cards- but our meals were the produced from the most basic elements of the earth: bread, cheese, simple soups, a tomato sauce and pasta, yogurt... nothing fancy, no fine culinary genius at work, but holy and truly wonderful. The time of my departure left me wondering how I could find space in my life to create solitude and simplicity. How could I train myself to notice the thin places in my normal life in the "real world".

Before leaving, we discovered the Infirmary museum, that housed the original St Oran's Cross, St John's Cross and fragments of St Matthew's Cross. The original St Martin's Cross still stands near the abbey, but the crosses in the museum had fallen and are in the process of being restored. Of course being a good catholic, I could not leave that place without venerating those crosses and touching St Columba's pillow. I lingered as long as I good with those relics and enjoyed a sense of the presence of those who had served God on that island in ages past- and then it was time to board the ferry and head back to Glasgow.

The evening in Glasgow was particularly pleasant, as I had the privilege of having drinks and chat with Kelvin Holdsworth- the Provost of St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow- whom I've enjoyed corresponding with via his blog and facebook. Do visit his blog, and when in Glasgow, drop by St Mary's. There doing some great ministry there and you'll be warmly received.

One final random note: While on Iona I lost my wallet. Everyone in the shops and the abbey were so helpful and kind in trying to help me locate it. However, one of the employee's of the Finlay Ross General Store was particularly helpful. She made telephone calls for me went to the post office to enquire whether or not someone had found it and returned it there. I regret I do not know her name, but I am grateful for her kindness and assistance. Drop in to the general store when you visit Iona and thank them for going the extra mile for a stranger. (by the way, a few days ago I received an email saying my wallet had been found. It had fallen in a box in one of the stores and was discovered when an employee was cleaning. Of course I've already replaced all of my cards and driver's license. LOL )

:: posted by Padre Rob+, 3:44 PM


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