StevieB's week on Iona

cross on Iona - pic by StevieB Sept 07

• I had a brilliant time on Iona last week. Going on my own, I was very wary of being one amongst strangers - and that's exactly how it felt, as our group at the McLeod Centre was some 47 strong. The accommodation was pretty good - really good bunk beds with good shelving, lighting etc (I shared with three other blokes) with separate individual showers and loos; plus craftroom; plus large communal space for dining and chatting.  The Centre was "manned" by an Australian lady who acted as one of two facilitators for the various activities.  Food was prepared by Iona volunteers (who were on island for 2-3 months at a time - mainly students, but all age). I think my "course title" was something "exploring the island" but actually I could (and usually did) do anything I like - people were completely free to opt in and out as they wanted.  Organised activities included the "off road" pilgrimage (with other island visitors which was brilliant (and the weather ideal!); visit to a croft; building a labyrinth on the beach; exploring the bogs; visiting the vegetable garden and picking for some of the meals.  There were also opportunities to join Gillian (master musician lady!) for music (I didn't participate!).  I also joined a workshop given by Kathy Galloway (very impressive, lovely lady).  We all had light duties (essentially cleaning) which took some 20 minutes each day and we took it in turns (in "teams") to serve/wash up one of the meals each day.  Short services in the Abbey at 9am and 9pm were an important focus for the day. In the event, the people provided the focus for a truly memorable week - although the island itself looked absolutely stunning (and it was lovely to get to Columba's Bay at last!).  Also went on a boat trip to Staffa which, again, was great.  A number of us found our way to the pub (three nights during the week!) Being there for a whole week was wonderful and one of the highlights was the gentle daily rhythm of our time together.  Lots of walking, lots of freedom.  The Thursday night eucharist was very special - a celebration with the Iona Community; the island; and our time together.  The music was superb all week. The challenge now is to try to use the things I learnt and experienced on Iona in my daily life over the next few weeks, months and, hopefully, years! love+hugs Steve [13.9.07]