While in college, I spent 10 days in Scotland on a trip with a Presbyterian Leadership group at Presbyterian College. This place, was Iona, the tiny isle where Christianity touched Scotland for the first time. Columba, the Irish monk built an abbey church there. A nunnery came later, and then for many generations, Iona was a mission outpost for western Scotland. It was first discovered when an Irish monk hopped aboard a boat with no steering system convinced that God and providence would wash him ashore where he needed to be.
It is now a place where many tourists and pilgrims travel. I spent 3 days there with a group of Presbyterian students reflecting, worshipping and experiencing community in a very new way. One of the parts of my experience there that sticks with me is the silence. There were very few mechanical sounds on the island, maybe one car, sometimes a lawn mower, but that was about it. I had an opportunity to hike with our group around the island one day. We traveled to the rocky beach, where Columba first encountered this small island. I learned that many of these rocks are some of the oldest in the world. They were there long before I arrived and will be there long after I leave.
In recent weeks we have heard of several horrific tragedies around the world. Many of us have also experienced difficult situations in our own families and communities. When we face a tragedy, these questions may come to mind: Have you experienced moments when you are reminded that each day is a gift? Knowing this, how do you want to live your life? Always busy, working on the next project, chore or errand? Or with an attitude of unhurried trust and joy being immersed in the current moment?
This verse stuck with me through the past few days in the midst of these events, "God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1
As reminder of my experience on Iona, I have a picture of one of the Celtic crosses that I found on the island. Each time I stop to take a look at it, these experiences come rushing back and I attempt to reclaim the rhythm of my journey and the messages that God revealed.
Prayer for Today
A prayer from St. Columba:
Be, Lord Jesus, a bright flame before me,
a guiding star above me,
a smooth path below me,
a kindly shepherd behind me:
today, tonight, and forever. Amen.