Iona Abbey, my home for the next ten weeks
I believe that I am following God's call back to this place, where for one week last year I sensed more growth in my discernment than for a long time before and after. Last Sunday we celebrated the feast of Pentecost, remembering the descent of the Holy Spirit on the earliest Christians and the "birthday" of the Church. I can't help but think, however, that the spirit must be chased sometimes - like something precious caught in the wind that is always just a few feet out of reach. That is what I feel like I'm doing now - chasing the spirit back to a place I only recently left, to this island. And perhaps it is just the beautiful scenery - we are passing Loch Lomond as I write - but the voice I heard calling me back here seems to get louder the closer I get.
Such personal pilgrimages and wanderings are often lonely exercises, and already I have begun to adopt the isolating, self-sufficient mental attitude I learned last year when I was so often on my own in foreign cities. But Iona is a community, and as I quickly discovered last May, it is not a place to go and think big thoughts quietly on a stone beach, cut off from other humans. Rather, God speaks here in community, in human interaction, through food, drink, and common prayer. I have just met up with four fellow pilgrims, who begin work on Iona today. We will arrive already a small community.
My prayer is that I will give myself fully to this community in the coming weeks, and that it will in turn reveal itself to me, and that the Holy Spirit may work through us all in the process.
PS: Speaking of Loch Lomond, I had no idea last year that it is on the route to Iona from Glasgow! My return to this part of the world reminds me of a line from this famous loch's ballad: "We'll meet where we parted in yon shady glen, on the steep, steep side o' Ben Lomond, where in deep purple hue the highland hills we view, an' the moon looks out frae the gloamin'."