Iona, a sacred Compass.

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We stepped onto the  shore, a motley bunch of Pilgrims,

Bidding farewell to the Fionnphort ferry and her skipper

And to pink-granited Ross of Mull,

Distantly looming across the waters of The Sound.

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We walked our first tentative steps on sacred soil,

Holding our breath

And holding our hopes and aspirations before us…

Iona…a thin place where heaven and earth meet and mix and mingle,

Where Spirit roams free,

Welcomed by all the illuminated souls gone before.

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The Abbey beckons us in, drawing us towards her ancient stones,

Where the very air in which they are suspended,

Chants those holy names of I AM,

And we remember…

Jesus is the cornerstone that the builders rejected.

Disengaging with matters spiritual,

“Cells” are allocated, worldly sustenance discussed.

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Leaving the Bishop’s House,

We discover the well trodden, hidden, Abbey path,

Entering that sacred space, the quiet, humble and unassuming Way.

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Touching St. Martins’ Celtic cross,

Pilgrims spanning the centuries connect with us,

In prayer, in hope, in soul-searching contemplation.

We feel we have come Home.

Rest and Blessed Assurance.

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The Strand of the Seat invitingly provides a pure white, sandy cushion,

Where we sit and watch a blinding, illuminating sun, sink slowly down

NorthWestwards, towards the ebbing, flowing waters of the vast Atlantic

And we are spell-bound, entranced, enraptured,

Held gently in the palm of Eternity.

With a last breath, the fan-like rays of the setting sun

Whisper softly that “The day thou gavest Lord hath ended…”

And we know that we are truly loved and blessed.

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Heading NorthEast, in the heat and brilliance of a glorious Ionic day,

We are drawn to the turquoise blue-green jewelled waters

And tranquil breathtaking  beauty of The White Strand of the Monks,

Traigh Ban Nam Monach…Gaelic treasure!

Ethereal lighting, vibrant depth of colour, surreal rock formation

Forming an intricate tapestry that is God’s Handiwork.

Verily, this is Heaven on Earth!

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Solemnly, we gather in Martyrs’ Bay looking East and out across calm waters,

Picturing the brutal, bloody, Viking slaughter of innocent monks

And feeling the very grains of sand under our feet,

Screaming out in torture and torment and despair.

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With hope and with purpose we cross the Machair,

Following the bracken-edged path over the hill, skirting the lochan,

And with senses magnified and heightening anticipation,

We arrive at the Southern, secluded, pebble-strewn Bay of St. Columba.

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The very stones and cliff ledges carrying  testimony to that

Distant, dangerous, yet momentous landing in 563 AD.,

When a brave, flimsy coracle, navigating turbulent ocean,

Deposited Columcille and 13 others upon unknown Druidic shores,

The Word guarded in hearts, a guiding beacon and light to all.

With bowed heads and open hearts we hear and accept

The inviting invocation of monks who once prayed in this self same spot

Looking nostalgically over the sea to their distant homeland of Ireland.

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We gather up a couple of pebbles, ones that have called and shimmered to us,

Mentally transferring all that weighs heavy within us onto one…

And hurtle the Past away from us, as far as we can throw, into the waves.

The other, the Future, imbued with a little of Iona’s Holy Alchemy

We place in our pockets to treasure and take home.

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Finally we scale Dun Bhuig, Boggy Hill, one of the many rocky, rounded knolls

Rising out of moist and fertile, unique, grassy plains, Hermit’s Cell in our sights.

Feeling and breathing the ancient gneisses, the metamorphic rocks

Upon which we sit, towering Westwards over the Bay at the Back of the Ocean,

We are transported, indeed metamorphosed and acutely aware

Of the sacredness of the very stones to which we are conjoined…

Only much later do we discover that we had stopped to rest and meditate…

…upon the site of an ancient burial ground.

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All earthly time, all beings and peoples,

All linear history and future, written, not yet palpable,

Sucked into a cosmic vortex of  Love, Light and Blessed Peace.

AMEN.

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11 thoughts on “Iona, a sacred Compass.

  1. Your poem is a spiritual testimony to your faith. By quoting Scripture you show that you use the Compass that is guiding your life’s journey. Your poem stands out and points to the Beacon of Light shining in the darkness for us all to follow, if we so choose. On a different note, paradise is where your heart is right with God. In that sense Scotland is paradise for you.

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    1. Thank you, thank you, so much. Your words mean so much to me. Iona had a very profound effect on me when I went there on a Pilgrimage a few years ago. It was one of those very deeply moving and connecting experiences, that I will never forget. There are many such sacred places around the world where you can feel this. Another was Chalice Well in Glastonbury…last year.

      If we so choose…those are words that say it all, we have a choice…but some, for whatever reason choose not to and that is all ok. No judgement. Everyone and everything in it’s own time when ready…Paradise is being one with God, be that in the slums of Mumbai or Park Lane, London…it is purity of heart that holds the key. Writing this poem meant and does mean much to me and my heart is gladdened that it spoke to you, as Iona did to me. Blessings.

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  2. This is so beautiful, thank you. I especially love the last bit…

    “All earthly time, all beings and peoples,

    All linear history and future, written, not yet palpable,

    Sucked into a cosmic vortex of Love, Light and Blessed Peace. ”

    Lovely photos too…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So so glad you like this. Your comment is a huge encouragement, especially as Iona was indeed a special, thin, sacred place for me. I came away spiritually nourished, refreshed…and I loved walking around the Island, especially at 5 a m when no one was yet up, taking photos with my Nikon against the rising sun. It was mystical. Thank you so very much, I value you input immensely.

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  4. Wow, loved the interweaving of photo’s and the pilgrim journey, giving a commentary of experience step by step for the reader. Allowing me to experience Iona through your eyes and your time there. Where you there recently? I would love to go to Iona again, it has been years since I was last there and I have a deeper appreciation of this sacred space and place now then when I went.

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  5. Thank you so much for your feedback and appreciation and I am glad that this enabled you to relive and retrace the time you spent on Iona, previously. As you say, you would probably see it and feel it from different eyes now…Iona really spoke to me, on many many levels and I wanted this poem and the photos I took there, to reflect the sacredness that permeates the island, and the profound effect it had on me. I was there nearly 3 years ago and have treasured the moments until now, when it felt right to share my experience with folk and write them down. It was a special labour of love as was Iona a place of love and fellowship. Again, thank you, I so value your connectedness! Blessings and Peace.

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