Sabbatical Diary – Day 13

The magnificent Ardnamurchan Point Lighthouse. The most Westerly point in mainland Britain.

Left Iona this morning after Morning Prayer and breakfast with Father Michael and my fellow guests at the Catholic House of Prayer. Quite emotional leaving. I have had a very special time on the island and doubt if I’ll be back again. (I did say that when Joe and I were leaving the Holy Land the first time I went, but I am not planning a Benefice Pilgrimage to Iona.) (Having said that, there was a Church group of 22 at the Bishop’s House when I went for Evening Prayer last night.) (Very long way!)

I pondered why trips to places like Iona or the Holy Land can be so meaningful. George Macleod, the founder of the Iona Community, wrote that Iona is “a thin place where only tissue paper separates the material from the spiritual.” He was talking about connections between heaven and earth. Whilst this makes sense in terms of what I have experienced here, and in the Holy Land, I’m not sure I really believe that we get closer to God by going to particular places. So what’s going on? Well I think when we go on ‘Pilgrimage‘, we are setting out to encounter God. The places we go, the history we encounter, the events we engage with, the emotions we experience, all in a mindset of wanting to connect to God, help us to do just that.

By definition, we have stepped out of our normal routine, we are more likely to be spending more time in prayer, in reading scripture, and in quiet contemplation. Perhaps it is our hearts and minds that are the ‘thin places’ at such times.

Anyway, great day today. Bright and sunny again. But a lot warmer. Fantastic ride through beautiful scenery on Mull and the Ardnamurchan peninsular. Wonderful hotel in Kilchoan with fabulous views.

(Oh, and the trike started first time!)

Thanks all for your support and prayers.

God bless,


Puffins on Staffa!

(Finally, I seem to have caused some confusion about receiving communion on Iona. Sorry. Let me explain: I received communion at the Abbey, where services are run by the Iona Community, which has an ‘open table’. I would not have been able to receive communion at the Catholic House of Prayer, but wasn’t there anyway; I had already decided to go to the Abbey. I understood and fully accepted the situation. There was no ‘refusal’, no difficulty, no issue, no problem. All good. Hope that makes sense.)

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