Friday, May 23, 2014

The Abbey of Iona and the Second Threshold...

View Across to Mull
   Iona has a very long tradition of pilgrimage.  As a sacred site it holds a place of honor.  People have been making the trip here for over 1,400 years.  And it is not an easy place to get to either!

   First a two hour train ride from Glasgow to the coast.  Then there's a 45 minute ferry ride to Mull.  You then have to get a bus for the cross island trip which takes about an hour and which takes you through breathtaking landscapes.  Finally, you take another ferry for the short 15 minute journey to Iona.  Getting to Iona is as important as being on Iona.  You have to really want to be here.

Evening light at the Abbey
   You will be rewarded in so many ways when you do arrive, this view across to Mull is just one.  There is a shimmering light here that is especially wonderful and in the late afternoon the Abbey is illuminated...the high crosses casting shadows on the church facade.

   This is not just another museum but an active center for ecumenical Christian practice.  It's not just a relic of the past but a place of the future.  You can find out a bit about the Iona Community here.

   St. Columba, whose name in Gaelic means "dove of the church", founded the monastic settlement here on Iona in the 6th century.  Here the Book of Kells was illuminated and it was a center of learning for centuries.  It seemed the perfect place to look at the second threshold of my pilgrimage, spirituality for the second half of life.
White Doves at the Abbey

   My friend in Glasgow gave me a fitting quotation for this leg of my journey...

That man is little to be envied whose piety would not grow
 warmer amongst
the ruins of Iona.

Dr. Samuel Johnson
19 October 1773

   How please Dr. Johnson would be to see the Abbey resurrected to a new longer a ruin!


Mystic Meandering said...

You may be familiar with the author, Joan Anderson? She too made a pilgrimage to Iona and wrote about it in her book: The Second Journey: The Road Back to Yourself. I read it several years ago, but am going to pull it out of my bookcase and read it again as it really has to do with the "second journey" of life where all our goals, ideals and responsibilities have changed, and we must re-evaluate our direction in the second half of life.

Iona looks like a wonderful contemplative place. And I love the evening light on the Abbey - so soothing...

Patricia Turner said...

No, I am not familiar with the book but I will try to get after I return. It sounds like the perfect follow up to this journey. Thank you for mentioning it.