From Iona with Love

The Holy Isle of Iona has it’s unique colour as well as plenty of spirituality.

I’ve been wanting to visit Iona ever since I discovered that apparently one of the lay lines runs all the way from the Holy Island of Lindisfarne to Iona. What’s more, apparently the rock strata Iona sits on is some of the oldest on the planet, possibly 1500 million years old, so who on Earth would not want to see that? Well, where there’s a will there’s a way. In our case we just jam packed our August bank holiday weekend with an epic trip from Skye to Isle of Mull to Iona, to Glencoe, to Glenfinnan to Isle of Lewis and Harris and oh God, did I scare you now? Well, that was a road trip and a half indeed. So much beauty, so much rain, sun and hotels of all sorts. Anyway. To get to Iona, one needs to take a ferry from Fionnphort on the Isle of Mull. Ferries operated by Caldedonian MacBrayne run pretty often and there is no need to pre-book. You need to leave your car at Fionnphort, as Iona is subject to a “Prohibition of Vehicles” Order, which is great as the only cars on this tiny 1.5 by 3 mile island are those of the inhabitants and public service operators (aka refuse lorries)- ha! funny saw one of those as the only car on the ferry! Wow! it was great walking around without having to wait for the cars to pass before crossing the street! What’s more, no fumes, no noise, no parking meters. Great! Except that when you’re droning folk, you have a lot of gear and that gear is rather heavy. Oh well, our flying engineer, as usual, did some engineering and strapped one of my aerial yoga straps around the drone case to be able to hoist it on his back. So guess we made a pretty good view trudging our case around.

Iona is considered to be an important cradle of Christianity. St. Columba founded the famous Iona Abbey here in 563. The Abbey has been subjected to mass murder and pillage many times during the course of the history. In 806, 68 monks were massacred in Martyrs’ Bay by the Vikings. Looking at the tranquil and peaceful Iona in 2017 I can’t help but wonder how could humans ever be so cruel? How can one kill and destroy when there is so much beauty around? I guess they were after the lavishly decorated  Book of Kells and the relics or maybe just some mead. Many a good man have lost their souls to the glistening of “treasures”, let’s just hope that the future of Iona will be void of any bloodshed.

I found a wonderful guest book inside the Abbey with a beautiful inscription in it by Thomas Merton:

“The supposed ‘inner life’ may actually be nothing but a brave and absurd attempt to evade reality altogether. Under the pretext that what is ‘within’ is in fact real, spiritual, supernatural, one cultivates neglect and contempt for the ‘external’ as worldly, sensual, material and opposed to grace. Very often, the inertia and repugnance which characterise the so-called ‘spiritual life’ of many Christians could perhaps be cured by simple respect for the concrete realities of every day life, for nature, for the body, for one’s work, one’s friends and one’s surroundings. Meditation has no point and reality unless it is firmly rooted in life.”

I can’t help but agree with the above. Nature is my temple and life is within me and each and one of you. Look beyond the known facts and go see the “snake and boss” shrine fragment in the museum next to the Abbey and wonder about the true meaning of this ancient symbol of eternity and it’s meaning.