Iona: Deep Calls To Deep: 3

Reflection: 9&10 October 2017: 9 October was another travelling day – a 210 mile car drive, a ferry to the Isle of Mull, a fifty-minute across the island on its circuitous road from one port to another, and then another ferry to the Isle of Iona.

I stepped off the ferry (9 October) onto the the Isle of Iona, that Isle of Druids, at 6.30pm. Spiritual? Nature? Profound? As I stepped onto Iona the wind howled, the temperature seemed just a little above refrigerator temperature, and it was raining. It was cloudy and darkness was looming.

I knew well the ‘s’ shaped trek of over a mile, and through rugged and hilly terrain that I was to take, and with failing light, I set off. The instructions were clear: you’ll go through several gates along the way, please ensure you close them once through. I did so.

And then I had to go through a gate that had a sign on it: ‘Beware of the bull’. I had hoped that this was some kind of joke, but my pace quickened nevertheless. And, then it slowed. There was a bull, and the bull was seventy-feet it front of me. A huge, dare I say ‘ginger-coloured, hulking bull. As calmly as I could I plotted a wide half-circle around him – I wish I had paid more attention to geometry at school. I then noticed that the bull, fortunately, was more interested in the cows in a neighbouring field. So, I arrived at the next gate quicker than expected, but very relieved.

Today, 10 October, by contrast I walked the thirty minutes from the cottage where aim staying to St Oran’s Chapel, and a few yards further on to the Abbey. The Chapel is a simple stone building, with little inside except a rough altar, a rough cross, and one of those light-a-candle-rack in the corner. The room was simplicity itself. Hewn of rugged stone, it bore none of the niceties of modern-day living, modern-day church buildings, and it was dark and it was dusty. 

And, yet it ‘glowed’ with energy and power, and the songs of monks and pilgrims permeated from its walls as whispers. I was surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. As you read this, you are with me, and so I am not afraid to admit that as I lit a candle for all those that had ‘gone ahead’ – my parents, my ancestors, and those who have ‘passed on’ that you know by name – I sobbed like a child. Not because of sadness, though I’m sure that we all miss them, but tears of love and anticipation. In this place they don’t seem far away. They continue on, and one day we will all be united. This place transcends any denomination or faith. It testifies to Life itself and in all its many and varied forms. This small, dark, dusty room on a remote Scottish Island shouts that out, loud and clear. Those Christians knew this, and the Druids and others before them.

Spiritual? Natural? Profound? Oh yes. The bad weather when I stepped of that ferry, the bull, this wonderful ‘thin place’, St Oran’s Chapel with the varied faith of many down the centuries, indeed the whole is island, this Isle of the Druids is a deeply spiritual, natural and profound place – and you, in one way or another, are with me now.

Blessings Tadhg

18 thoughts on “Iona: Deep Calls To Deep: 3

  1. Tadhg, am walking with you in my heart and picturing every step on my mind . . . from memories of my 2 pilgrimages to that “thin place”. My tears happen on The Nunnery. I will wait with great interest for your words to us from that Sacred place.

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    • Zoé, yes, the whole island, I do believe, is a ‘thin space’, full of energy, light, love and the ancestors, side by side. And within the island there are interior ‘thin spaces”. For me, it was definitely St Oran’s Chapel and the Nummery. Both those placed exuded light and love of a different, but complementary, kind. There was a deep contented-peace and joy coming from the Nunnery, and so quiet one could almost believe one was transpaorted back it time – maybe we were/are. Many blessing to you Zoé, Tahdgh.

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  2. The beauty of Iona surpasses all, it shines through regards of wind and rain.
    Each night, in my minds eye, and before I close my eyes to sleep, I take that boat ride across the Sound to recall the excitement that I felt and experience the huge wave of emotion that washes over me each time I arrive upon Iona.
    Under my pillow I have a small rock picked up from the shore, I`m not sure how but I feel its energy and I draw comfort knowing that it is there, it helps me sleep, knowing that Iona isn`t all that far away, really, so Tadhg, soak up, enjoy and drink in every precious moment while you are on that magical isle, charge up your batteries, and may your footsteps be as light as air and the warmth of your visit be carried in your heart until you go again. Dawn

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    • Thankyou, for sharing your wonderful recollections. I have had a most wonderful and profound time there. The who island is a ‘thin place’. And when at the Machair, like you, I couldn’t resist picking up a beach pebble to take back home – asking permission, Ofcourse. Thankyou. too, for your well-wishes, Many blessings to you and yours, Tadhg.

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  3. Following my daughter Gwen’s death, I felt the need to take a small box of her precious things and bury them at the North End and I planned a small ceremony of Gratitude in St Oran’s Chapel. For the 2 previous days, I had been seeking pebbles and shells, and sought, in vain, for some very small feathers, to fit in the box. When my friends arrived, we spread the contents on the Altar, lit candles and smudged Sage to the sound of my friend’s recorder playing as she stood at the Altar and I stood at the door to maximise the resonance of my sacred chanting. A gust of wind suddenly blew open the door and two tiny, downy, pristine white feathers spun and danced all the way to the Altar. All solemnity instantly left us and nothing short of unbridled hilarity accompanied us all the way to the North End as we recalled this very unsubtle evidence of Spirit’s Presence. Gwen was a Fiddler with Michael Flatley’s “Lord of the Dance” so of course that was the tune that skipped and sped us on our way. A’ho ❤ ❤ ❤

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    • Thankyou,for sharing that, Maggi. St Oran’s’ Chapel is a special place of love and energy for me. A ‘thin place’. I’m pleased you were able to have a little ceremony there – and do believe that the way, sometimes,csolemmtiy can turn to hilarity is a sign of deep spirituality and that the presence of that person is there and affirming that all is well. Bless you for sharing thst, Tadhg.

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  4. Here in the Lakes I am with you on your journey. I always travel with candles and one is light for you on the Isle of Druids. I am with you. Blessings

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  5. I doubt if I will ever cross a sea; climb on island hills wet with rain; or all that others write about are stored in my mind under “Special things.” But I am assured that others words can change my life. May all be fantastic.

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    • Thankyou for your comment. The whole Island is an incredibly ‘thin place’, and thought I liked the abbey, I was drawn more to the Nunnery and St Oran’s Chapel. Many blessings, Tadhg.

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    • Thank you for your comment, Peter. I’ve also come across the ‘cell will teach you everything’. I’ve also read an anecdote about a senior monk showing the novice monk their cell/ The senior monk said, ‘And if there’s anything you need, just pull that red cord in the corner’. ‘And what will happen then’, the novice asked. ‘Ah, then a monk will visit your cell and show you how to live simply’.. Blessings Peter, Tadhg.

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