Saturday, 4 October 2008


Briefly back at base after six bracing, memorable days as a guest of the Iona Community.

The island of Iona has been a place of pilgrimage for more than a thousand years.

Restored in the latter half of the twentieth century, the Abbey is now home to members of a Christian community of lay and ordained people, who share a commitment to peace and justice and to the renewal of the church.

I've just relished a short stay in the comfortable hostel-style Macleod Centre, just up the hill from the Abbey.

Our sessions were led by the remarkable John Bell (beard, red shoes, above) who shared insights into the freshness, challenge, relevance and vivid aliveness of the 'family book', the Bible.

And we sang.

John is one of the most influential composers/writers/collectors of songs, hymns and chants of the last thirty years - and he has a terrific gift for getting untrained people singing with joy and gusto - and, before they know what has happened, in four-part harmony as well.

And then there was the food, the company, the weather - a mixture of fierce winds, horizontal rain and dazzling shafts of sunlight.

More pictures on Flickr.

And Mr Gnome was delighted to encounter two cheery gnomes (one of whom posed) who had travelled to Iona from Roanoke, Virginia, USA. Hurrah!

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