THANK YOU ALL for the gift of my sabbatical time. I was so blessed – and continue to be blessed by your love, your support and our ministry together. My time of sabbatical was indeed an opportunity for me to stop my duties as St. Luke’s pastor, to have times of rest and to be deeply renewed physically, emotionally and spiritually.
During my sabbatical time I was privileged to be able to travel to the Isle of Iona, Scotland, for a 10-day pilgrimage, led by leaders of Shalem Institute. The day after landing in Glasgow, Scotland we walked to the Ignatian Spirituality Center where we were privileged to spend the day with the Rev. Dr. John Philip Newell. Rev. Newell, a Church of Scotland minister, has served as pastor of St. Giles’s Cathedral, Edinburgh, as Warden of Iona Abbey and currently is companion and theologian for the American Spirituality Center of Casa del Sol at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. His workshop was inspiring and energizing. I read several of his books on Celtic spirituality during my sabbatical time.
The next day we traveled by bus and ferry to Iona, Scotland. The Isle of Iona has been called an otherworldly rock, one of Europe's most striking holy places. It is located among the Hebrides off Scotland's west coast. St. Columba established Iona as a Christian center in A.D. 563, and used it as a base for converting Scotland to Christianity. There is a ruined Benedictine nunnery and a fully restored cathedral where 50 Scottish kings were buried during the early Middle Ages. Hundreds of Celtic crosses once adorned Iona; today, only three of the originals remain. Now part of the National Trust, the island is home to an ecumenical group dedicated to the perpetuation of Christian ideals.
A Benedictine Community sprang up on Iona in the 12th century, but fell into ruin 400 years later. The Abbey was rebuilt in the 1930s when Rev. George MacLeod, a Church of Scotland minister, organized unemployed laborers to work together with seminarians during their summer vacation. After work on the Abbey was completed, the men wanted to stay together, and thus the Iona Community was formed. Today there are 300 members of the Iona Community--both women and men--who live out their vocation in ordinary daily life all over the world.
My time on the island was spent in twice-daily worship led by members of the Iona Community in the Abbey. Worship was as varied and diverse as the leaders. We used the Iona Abbey Worship Book and other resources as the leaders chose. The music was amazing and varied, including piano, guitars, flutes and singers who presented music in the styles of jazz, Taize, traditional hymns and more contemporary songs. The Abbey is a place of history and a center of spirituality. From the Iona marble baptismal font at the entrance, overlooked by the Night Stairs where monks would watch for and welcome pilgrims entering for worship, to the wooden benches and pews lining the aisle that leads to the marble altar, to the side chapel, called the Quiet Corner, the Abbey invites worship, prayers, singing and silence. There are some pictures on the bulletin board.
You will continue to hear about my sabbatical time as I look for ways to incorporate what I’ve learned and experienced into our life at St. Luke’s God’s blessings of joy and peace!