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Abundance and Community in Iona

By 374434_10151553638761262_1520744868_nNancy Corson Carter

I’ve just come in from our North Carolina garden where I tried not to notice the spreading weeds and where I repeated a wonderful practice Carole Crumley led us in as part of each morning’s Simple Presence on Iona.  We faced the directions, each one bearing a specific gift, and brought them to our hearts to carry us through the day.   I loved doing this practice in the St. Columba Hotel’s “quiet garden,” in the midst of lush vegetation and serenading birds, within sight of the Abbey Church, the Sound of Iona, and the hills of the island of Mull and the Scottish mainland beyond.  There was even the rich fragrance of “wild Irish roses” in the hedge.

For our Shalem pilgrimage, each of us was asked to contribute in a certain “area of service to the community.”  Mine was as a “Heart and Body Helper,” an encourager of  “devotion through sacred movement” and occasional leader of group body prayer. In preparing for this role, I’d found this statement, “Pilgrimage is a prayer of the body”—and it became a touchstone for me of this journey. Furthermore, Celtic Christianity, which blossomed on Iona, firmly taught that the physical and the spiritual are inseparably interwoven.

Today I am especially aware of two words from the Simple Presence practice that keeps me connected with our pilgrimage’s ongoing prayer. First, ABUNDANCE—we were showered by both physical and spiritual beauty, by walking in the footsteps of the many saints and pilgrims before us on this sacred island and also by the gifts our pilgrim companions so generously shared. And second, COMMUNITY—we shared in Shalem’s gift of deepening awareness of radiant Presence that extends out to include All!

It’s an interesting challenge to bring such a “mountain-top” (should I say “island-top”?) experience back into ordinary life at home.  I must put my trust in Spirit:  Romans 8:26: But the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words.

4 responses to “Abundance and Community in Iona”

  1. annbarry says:

    How lovely! And how precious to see the sign for the “Quiet Garden” at the St. Columba Hotel….I was privileged to be there last year….I am sure this year’s pilgrimage was equally special…Appreciated the quote that “Pilgrimage is a prayer of the body”…..Your blog keeps me bonded to Shalem!

  2. Nancy, you beautifully captured our early morning prayer time and brought Iona back into my heart space this morning. Thank you so much!

  3. Mary Ann Willis says:

    Beautiful, Nancy. I didn’t know you were a Shalem participant or that you had gone to Iona (one of my dreams after going to Lindesfarne (Holy Island) in 2001. Here in Columbus, I take part in two Shalem groups. Thank you for your lovely meditation this morning.

  4. Love this, especially the “Pilgrimage is a prayer of the body.” Thanks for sharing.

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