I first visited the Scottish western island of Iona, off the coast of Mull, in my 30’s on a pilgrimage with Aylesbury, St Mary’s. It was an incredible Easter experience and we stayed at the Abbey for a week ~ the likes of which I have never enjoyed since. See my original post in my series:
Pilgrims, Paths and Personal Journeys
This was my fifth trip to the island in all and we were visiting with two friends from here in Kinghorn, Fife.
How the island helped me in Mind, Body and Spirit
Staying in a pod, the only accommodation we could get, in the shadow on Dun I (Dun eeh) was as close to nature as we were going to get because Iona can feel like the end of the earth. And yet, to worship with the community at Iona Abbey, which we did both mornings, makes you truly grounded because addressing the suffering of the natural world and its people is at the heart of everything the community believes in.
You retreat from life in order to raise your awareness and live it in a more fruitful and fulfilling way.
We walked as much as we could, despite the rain, enjoying the wild north end of the island with its craggy shoreline and white sandy bays. We talked so much too; such a pleasure to be away with friends and to spend quality time with them. (and our visiting chickens!)
How I was inspired by the island of Iona
Like Tinos and Sifnos, the beauty of Iona could not help but stir my emotions and inspire me to describe the world around me in a deeper way. I was reminded of the social issues which drove me to write ‘MISSING, Past and Present’; homelessness, racial tension and injustice, and yet I have always been driven by the dichotomy of these issues – the positive relationships between refugee and foster carer, discovering mindfulness whilst wandering the lanes without a permanent home and racist attitudes that can just slip in unawares.
Above all, Iona made me think about the direction my writing would go in. So many projects begun but unfinished, mainly due to the events of the last two years. I have a glimmer of a direction now ~ watch this space …
Iona will always be close to my heart – a place where
‘the air between this world and the next is thin.’ ~ St Coumba