Iona, Camas and Glasgow

Camas trip for refugees – a thank you from associate Angela Rennie

Angela Rennie wishes to thank everyone who contributed to helping her bring a group of amazing friends to Camas this summer.

She says: ’14 people (10 refugees and 4 volunteers) had a wonderful week at Camas. It was a very special time. Thank you!’


‘Camas farewell’ © Used with permission

Wonderful new Camas film

Camas Open Weeks

8-13 October: Garden Week – A week at Camas getting your hands in the soil! Spend time in the Camas garden helping put the gardens to bed for winter. A mixture of work, rest and play with garden tasks, walks to beaches, trip to Iona, kayaking and lots of tea and cake to keep you going! Suitable for all ages and abilities (£250).

15-20 October: Work Week – Come and help us get Camas tidied away for the winter season. With a variety of jobs from painting to sewing and mending there is a job for all ages and abilities. The week is mixed with plenty of free time to explore the local area and beautiful beaches (£200).

To book, please contact Carol at: [email protected] 


‘Fresh harvest’ © Rachel Daniels (a former Camas volunteer), photo © Rachel Daniels

October cook needed on Iona, from Iona Centres Director Heinz Toller

We are looking for a cook/cooks who could come to Iona for the month of October to cook for a crowd of shifters and movers who will be emptying the Abbey before the start of Phase Two of the Abbey refurbishment.

If you are able and confident, can plan and cook meals for a group of around 25, and can help for part or even the whole of this time, please get in touch so we can discuss the details. Thank you:

[email protected]

Iona rainbow, by David Coleman ©

A place to share their story: A reflection and thank you from Manager of the Iona Community Shop, Susan Allen

The common ground shared among all bookshops is that the proprietors and staff are passionate about what they do, and so create spaces that are warm and welcoming, places where like-minded people want to be.

The Iona Community Shop on the Isle of Iona is no exception. There is one significant difference – the heart of what we do is to offer hospitality as our number one priority. We therefore come to work each day with a focus to attend to the needs of those who pass through our doors. For those who buy, and for those who just browse, we are often a listening ear, a place to share their story. There is often laughter, and tears, and even hugs between staff and customers.

I have worked in the shop since March 2017 and it has been an extraordinary 19 months – challenging beyond my wildest dreams yet equally enriching. And as I have worked shoulder to shoulder with so many volunteers, associates and Community members, throughout this time of transition, I often think that the Community has come full circle and back to the George MacLeod principle: that as we work hard together, we form community together.

To know and be known, to love and be loved … warts and all!

Thank you to each one who heeded the call and came to help us here on the island throughout this prolonged season of change. Thank you too for the prayer support, and for supporting the shop so faithfully, either by mail order or in person.

All of your efforts contribute to enabling the Iona Community hold open wide the Abbey and surrounds as an extraordinary place of welcome, of gathering and of worship, for this generation, and for those to come.

– Susan Allen

At the end of October Susan is heading back to Brisbane (her hometown), and will be working as a Project Facilitator for a development company based in the remote Western Province of Papua New Guinea. Thank you so much, Susan. Go well.

Photo: ‘Past and present’: The shop could not survive without the help of faithful volunteers. Susan (right) is pictured in the shop with Jenny Wright (a past Shop Manager, and frequently called-upon volunteer) and Saint Brigid, the shop’s patron saint (painted by Susan).

Report on the Iona Futures Engagement Day in Penrith, from member Neil Squires, Iona Centres Futures Group

The Iona Centres Futures Group (ICFG) has been working hard to progress the Strategic Plan for the Abbey Centre.

A draft Strategic Plan was completed in advance of an Engagement Day, which was held in Penrith on Saturday 1st September, 2018.

The day was attended by over 60 people, comprising members, associates, young adults and Yvonne Naylor from the Corrymeela Community, who was there as a ‘critical friend’. Yvonne also acted as an ‘observer’, along with Maddey Watson (young adult), Annie Sharples (young adult) and Sue Dale (Member and Convenor of Iona Committee). All the observers provided very helpful and fresh insights throughout the day.

The day was a great success, with those attending providing positive feedback regarding the breadth and content of the draft plan, as well as bringing new insights and challenges for ICFG to think about.

There were several key themes and outcomes from the day. News and details to follow.

– Neil Squires

Co-leaders Kathy Galloway and Christian MacLean at Iona Futures Engagement Day, Penrith, by Chris Polhill ©

The Very Life of Life: A Second Year of Daily Reflections, by Tom Gordon – new book from Wild Goose Publications

This is the age of the ‘sound bite’, the short and memorable one-liner or clever idea from politicians, celebrities and pundits. No longer, we are told, can people cope with complex ideas, lengthy speeches or complicated sermons. In our reflections on what gives life meaning, it is no different. We might wish people spent more time looking more deeply at issues, but the reality is that we look for what is easy to absorb and understand.

In Look Well to This Day, published previously, Tom Gordon offered what proved to be a useful resource as people faced the joys and sorrows, challenges and decisions of each day. In The Very Life of Life, he returns to this approach, offering a second year of daily reflections. When our time is limited, a short reflection can be as much as we can manage. When life is complex and difficult, a simple idea may be all we need. When each day is about making sense of what’s happening to us, a reflective sound bite might help us through. Tom Gordon’s reflections are simple and direct, but from his experience and wisdom he offers deep insights for the ‘very life of life’ we are living today.

Tom Gordon is a former hospice chaplain, a storyteller, a member of the Iona Community and the author of several books.

The Very Life of Life, by Tom Gordon, Wild Goose Publications 2018

Upcoming weeWONDERBOX events, from the Iona Community’s Programme team and the Wild Goose Resource Group

weeWONDERBOX is a series of face-to-face events, most of which take place at the Ground, the event space of the Iona Community base at 21 Carlton Court, Glasgow. It’s a collaboration between the Iona Community’s Programme team and WGRG.

October 2018

Wed 3rd @ 6.00-7.00pm: Wee Weekly Worship – Quiet Time

Wed 3rd @ 7.00-9.00pm: Brexit And The Book Of Ruth: (1) Crossroads Decisions

Mon 8th @ 6.00-7.30pm: Becoming Human Together: (1) The Practice Of Lamenting

Wed 10th @ 6.00-7.00pm: Wee Weekly Worship – Prayers for Justice & Peace

Wed 10th @ 7.00-9.00pm: Brexit And The Book Of Ruth: (2) The Migrant Worker

Wed 17th @ 6.00-7.00pm: Wee Weekly Worship – Prayers for Healing & Wholeness

Wed 17th @ 7.00-9.00pm: Brexit And The Book Of Ruth: (3) Who Is Family?

Wed 24th @ 6.00-7.00pm: Wee Weekly Worship – Act of Commitment

Wed 24th @ 7.00-9.00pm: Brexit And The Book Of Ruth: (4) A Complicated End

Wed 31st @ 6.00-7.00pm: Wee Weekly Worship – All Saints

Wed 31st @ 7.00-9.00pm: Brexit And The Book Of Ruth: (5) Liturgical Setting

weeWONDERBOX 2018-19

Members, associates and friends

‘You’re a couple of nutters’: On the ‘Nae Nukes Anywhere’ gathering at Faslane, 22nd September, 2018, by member John Harvey

A beautiful autumn day – the Firth of Clyde at its sparkling best – and an opportunity to meet with friends and enjoy the sunshine for two cheerful hours by the seaside. What’s not to like? Well, only that we were meeting under the looming shadow of the Royal Naval Submarine Base at Faslane, with the primary purpose of making visible, yet again, the blasphemy of Britain’s weapons of mass destruction, and the obstinacy of our Government’s position in refusing to ratify the International Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This was Saturday 22nd September, when CND organised a march and rally at Faslane, under the banner of ‘Nae Nukes Anywhere’. We guessed there were maybe 250 or so people there, with representatives and speakers from other peace movements round the world, including at least two Buddhist monks. The event was chaired by the Iona Community’s co-leader Kathy Galloway, and we met at least a dozen Community members and some associate members during the two hours Molly and I were present – and glad to be there, even if yet again we came away saddened and angered at the continuing existence, and expense, of these weapons. On our way home from the station in Glasgow, our conversation with the taxi driver was bizarre – his final opinion on what we had been up to, and who we were, being expressed in the pithy Glasgow phrase: ‘You’re a couple of nutters.’ So there you go!

– John Harvey

‘If you remain silent …’: Address to the Ecumenical Forum of European Christian Women, Soko Grad, Serbia, August 2018, by Co-Leader of the Iona Community, Kathy Galloway

‘A few years ago, I was invited to preach on a text from the Book of Esther in a church in Edinburgh. When the time came for the passage to be read, it soon became clear that the woman reader had not read it in advance, was in fact hearing it for the first time as she read it aloud. As she read on, the pitch of her voice became higher and higher, and her tone increasingly indignant, until finally, the whole congregation could not do anything but laugh at the outrage she was clearly feeling.

Well, a 21st century European congregation may hear an ancient story like the one told in the book of Esther very differently. In particular, the women hear it differently. Context is crucial, and what the present-day congregation in Edinburgh heard was a horror story of misogyny, violence and treachery …’



Photo of Kathy Galloway ©

A glimmer of hope: On watching the memorial service for Senator John McCain, a reflection by associate Katharine Preston in America

I don’t want to forget any minute of the memorial service held on September 1, 2018 in Washington National Cathedral for U.S. Senator John McCain.

It was broadcast live, and my husband John Bingham and I watched, enthralled.

I think of myself as a progressive. Maybe even further left than that. I disagreed with many of Senator John McCain’s votes. But as I watched the memorial service, which he’d planned, I was deeply moved by how he orchestrated an eloquent call to us – all of us – to stop looking at where we are on the political spectrum, at the things that divide us, at the tribes and diatribes that isolate us, all of us using rhetoric that serves only to solidify, not soften, our divisions.

This man, a Vietnam War hero (five and a half torturous years in prison), a U.S. Congressman, then a Senator and Presidential candidate, twice, epitomised integrity. From refusing early release (due to familial connections) from prison without his fellow prisoners, to politely but firmly correcting an angry voter making false statements about Obama on the campaign trail, he was a man of honour. He also lived outside the norm of the ‘inside the Beltway’ (of Washington) mode of partisan political manoeuvring and rancour, consistently insisting instead on keeping cordial and productive relationships with people from the opposing party.

He learned he had a brain tumor in 2017. He planned every minute of his own memorial service, including the wonderful irony of inviting two former Presidents, from two different parties, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, both of whom defeated him, to be among those who offered eulogies.

I learned a lot about John McCain during that service: how in addition to government officials in repressive countries, he would insist on meeting with the countries’ human rights groups. How he would accompany Senator Joe Lieberman, walking, instead of riding in a car, to official events on the Sabbath. How he would laugh at his own oft-repeated jokes, again (and again!), but how those jokes were never, ever abusive to another human being. These are things I admire. As someone who did not admire some of the positions he took, I am glad to know about them.

We should not have let the commentators on either side convince us that the memorial service was all about President Trump. (The President was not invited to attend.) It was about the President only in the sense that his absence from the service helped to release us from a focus on him, thereby allowing our collective souls to remember, to remember a nation defining itself by the visionary moral principles that unite us, not by angry barbs that divide us.

And I don’t think we should have let the commentators bemoan the passing of one sometimes characterised as a dinosaur (due for extinction), a maverick (dismissible), or even as the last true statesman (no young representative need apply).

If John McCain was unique, then a frightful ordinary has emerged out of our lazy complicity in this country. There has been a gradual deterioration that we increasingly accept as normal. Tribal camps are more concerned with how we are ‘right’ than with how we move forward toward a more perfect union. Representatives or new candidates choose party loyalty and/or fear of defeat in the election over personal moral integrity. And by not holding ourselves, and them, to a higher standard, a John McCain standard, we cross a line. In our silence, we are complicit.

Complicity with the ordinary is corrosive to the extraordinary, and must not be accepted as normal. It is so easy to join crowds that do as we do, think as we think, sometimes yelling slogans and calling people names. Or to shrug our collective shoulders and wait for it to all go away. We need to remember that, as former President Bush said during the service, ‘America is better than this.’

It will be hard work: to listen, to seek to understand, to love the country, together. But through his memorial service, John McCain offered a glimmer of hope to me.

I don’t want to forget.

– Katharine Preston, Essex, New York, September 15, 2018

Rainbow © John Bingham (associate)

Water is life!, from associate member Doug Kee in Malawi

Over the past ten years, associate Doug Kee from Michigan has gained a whole new appreciation for the precious gift of clean water. Volunteering in Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia with the Christian organisation Marion Medical Mission, Doug has travelled to remote African villages where his group installs simple shallow wells which protect the groundwater villages rely on for their water supply. Incidences of waterborne diseases and deaths decline significantly once the water source is protected. Volunteers work hand in hand with village teams who help construct the wells and take over maintenance upon completion. Over the years, more than 31,000 wells have been installed in remote villages through this programme, providing several million extremely poor people with precious, safe drinking water. These days Doug can’t look at a glass of clean water coming out the tap without remembering the millions around the world still in need of safe clean water.

Below is a photo of a well Doug helped to install in September in Ntchisi, Malawi – and the celebration that occurs after each installation.

Photo from Marion Medical Mission ©

The Kentigern School: The way of contemplation, from member Stephen Wright

Contemplation cannot be taught, but we can nurture the ways that open us to the experience. It is the fulfilment of the longing for the realisation of the ‘something other’, the Real, the Divine. It is to be contemplum: ‘in the temple’ or ‘at one with the holy’. For the contemplative, the primary source of faith and action in the world is this unifying relationship. The Kentigern School will be offering programmes to nurture that relationship.

The school is a new collaborative initiative between the Sacred Space Foundation and the Diocese of Carlisle.

Only 18 places are available. The course will consist of two weekend intensives, 16-18 November, 2018 and 8-10 March, 2019. In between there will be learning packs on nine key themes, including online work, the opportunity for group mentoring and one-to-one spiritual direction.

Much has been theorised about contemplation, but the programme on offer is not a theoretical or a theological ‘course’; it is an experiential encounter.

While rooted in the wisdom teachings of Jesus, the master contemplative, it is inclusive for all sincere enquirers. You do not have to be a Christian to join in nor will the programme try to make you one. Join us if you have faith. Join us if you have none. You will not be required to accept any doctrines, dogmas or theologies. All that is required is that you are feeling that pull or calling for ‘something more’ and that you are willing to participate fully with an open heart and mind to discover what is true for yourself.

If you feel this is right for you and/or would like to know more, then please contact Stephen Wright: [email protected]


Kentigern School symbol ©

Alan Hawkins: Seeker of peace, a tribute from Neil Paynter

Alan Hawkins (who was an associate member of the Community and a member of the Argyll Family Group) was one of my best friends. I don’t have many best friends (who does?).

I see Alan everywhere; and he comes to my mind in the middle of the night when I’m sitting up. I’ll miss (not even close to the right word) Helen and I going up to Kilmartin to see him at fireworks/lantern-parade time. Alan coming down to see us at Hogmanay. In August, dedicatedly doing the Edinburgh Festival with him.

Being with Alan has marked out our year for almost two decades now.

I lived with Alan on Iona when we were both Resident Group members. Alan ran the Maintenance Team.

I remember Alan sailing into the Abbey refectory one lunchtime – and suddenly leaping up onto a tabletop and belting out ‘Give me joy in my heart, keep me praising! …’

It’s hard to believe someone that full of spirit and the dance of life is dead.

I found one of my Iona ‘journals’ the other night. In it I wrote:

Alan talking to me about his journey:
about how he was a youth worker;
then an engineer;
then a crew member on sailing boats in the Caribbean;
then a Buddhist monk in Thailand.

About how the Buddha led him back to Jesus Christ,
who led him to development work
in a rural village
in Uganda …

What a rich human being.

I have a ‘business card’ Alan gave Helen and me, from one of the times he was travelling. Listing his various skills and qualities, it says:

Alan Hawkins:

creepy-crawlies removed

cook and bottle washer

all round good guy

Spanish speaker

English teacher


restorer of property

confidence booster

bars quaffed dry

coasts navigated

yachts sailed

pipe dreamer

(and in the very centre)


On occasion I’d ask Alan for a reflection for a Wild Goose book I was working on. Following are two pieces he gave me.

I can’t write any more. I’ll let Alan speak for himself …

‘Pax vobiscum’, by Alan Hawkins, from We Will Seek Peace and Pursue It (Wild Goose)

 Let peace fill our lives, our world, our universe.
Peace, peace, peace …

 From the Universal Prayer for Peace, said daily by Iona Community members

Just about everybody I know is not at peace and strives for it. So many people wake in the night disturbed by an uneasy mind, worrying about issues which, in the broad light of day, often dissolve.

For many years I have believed that it is better to live with one’s worries: just accept them as a part of life. As sure as eggs is eggs, as soon as you resolve a worry or angst another one comes along to take its place. It is human nature to not be at peace. It is how we live with this, cope with it that is important.

I expect you, like me, can think of individuals, a very few, whom we have met or still know whom we see as people at peace … it quietly radiates from them. What have they got which most don’t?

I had a job doing electrical work which took me into people’s homes, all manner of homes: the very wealthy, the very poor. One family which stands out in my memory were living with the bare essentials of life – no carpets, no electronic gear, no ornaments – yet they oozed contentedness. It flowed from them. They weren’t simple people but they lived simple lives, appearing to crave for nothing. They were very happy with what they had and thanked God for every blessing. They made the most of every minute and everything.

– Alan Hawkins

‘For the next life’, by Alan Hawkins, from Blessed Be Our Table (Wild Goose)

The Buddhist monks at Piboon, near the Laos border in Thailand, depend on ‘Pinderbat’ for their one and only meal of the day, which is taken around 8:30am in silence. During my stay at their island monastery I joined them for their daily Pinderbat, which means almsround.

I rose at 4:15am. The monks were already chanting in the sala, their communal praying and eating place, in which a larger-than-life Buddha takes dominant position. As we arrived at the boathouse, the rocks and lake took on colour and a new day began. Five saffron-dressed monks and I left in the long boat; the sky was clear, clouds in the distance so colourful as the sun rose. We motored over the lake and three monks disembarked; walking barefoot, each had an umbrella and a begging bowl. We walked through dusty, red country lanes past the occasional wooden house on stilts, the senior monk leading the silent line, everyone three paces apart with me at the rear, head shaven and in white baggy clothes. As we approached houses, people – mainly women – would come to the roadside, kneel, and raise their offering to their forehead. The donor then placed a little of what they had in each monk’s bowl. Nearly everybody gave sticky rice, the staple diet. Also donated were bananas and other fruits, eggs, but mainly sticky rice. It began to drizzle halfway round, but we just put up our umbrellas; people came out in the rain. Most homes ignored the monks, one in eight giving a token something. The wealthier-looking places gave nothing.

The monks received in silence – no acknowledgement; the belief is that the donor is the receiver by getting merit for the next life.

– Alan Hawkins

Alan Hawkins in the Abbey cloisters, 1999, by Helen Lambie

 A tribute to member Irene Gillespie

Iona Community member Rev Irene Gillespie died on 2nd August 2018. We hold Irene’s family and friends in prayers and love. A full tribute to Irene will follow in Coracle.

The thirty-first day

I remember those who have died:
those who were part of my living
those who live on in my life.

God of the elements, You inhabit me:
family and friends and strangers are at home in me,
stars and planets dance in my bones and blood.

I am me,
and yet I am more than me;
I remember, I learn, I dream,
I touch death and life.

God of eternity,
comfort your people,
living and dying.

Quicken us with wonder,
salt us with justice and integrity,
welcome us with love.

– Ruth Burgess, from Acorns and Archangels, Wild Goose Publications

MacLean’s Cross, Iona, by David Coleman ©

Iona Abbey Capital Appeal


Prayers for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, 17th October

A simple prayer

I have a simple prayer for the Church.
I pray that one day soon
I will be part of a church that when we pray for the poor,
we will pray for ‘us’ and not ‘them’.
I pray for a Church that will not only have the courage
to work for the poor,
to struggle with the poor
but will also be of the poor.
And I pray that one day
there will be no poor people in the Church
because there will be no poverty.
And I pray to you,
the God of miracles,
the God of the rich,
the God of the poor.

– Martin Johnstone, Church of Scotland, Poverty Truth Commission

‘You always have the poor with you’ (Mark 14:7)

Our trouble,
is that ‘the poor’ are seldom ‘with us’.
Too often,
we keep people who live in poverty at arm’s length:
in sink estates,
in ‘developing’ countries,
and think of them as victims,
or a burden,
or worse.
By your solidarity with the outcast and the rejected
you honoured their humanity
and released their potential.
Forgive us our arrogance
and our stupidity;
open our hands and our hearts
to receive the gifts they bring;
and show us how to work together
so that the curse of poverty
may be outlawed from the earth.

– John Harvey, Poverty Truth Commission

‘Blessed are you poor’ (Luke 6:20)

Blessed – how?
There’s never enough money –
every pay day is ‘pay away’ day –
and the Benefits system
makes me feel dirty and ashamed.
The bankers get bonuses
for plunging the whole country into debt;
me, I get blamed, and threatened with the law.
I’m tired and I’m angry
and the last thing I feel is ‘blessed’.
So, Jesus,
if you really mean it,
if this blessing you talk about
is for here, and not just for eternity,
then this is my prayer:
Change the culture of this country –
upset not just the tables but the spirits
of the men with money and power –
give me the words and the wisdom
to speak my truth to them,
and give them the patience and the pity
to listen;
then maybe, just maybe,
we’ll all get a blessing in the end.

– John Harvey, Poverty Truth Commission

By name

Made in your image,
every single one.
Knit together,
every single one.

Called into being,
every single one.
No matter what the headline says.
No matter what the state of my purse says.
No matter what my postcode says.
No matter what my accent says.
Every single one.

Called into being,
called by my name.

No matter where I shop.
No matter who I sit next to.
No matter what the label.
No matter.

God of the poor.
God of the rich.
God of the struggling somewhere in between.
Rise with us in the morning and dare us to dream.
Turn our heads with your vision of justice and joy.
May we work together with hope as our guide.

May we greet all your children by name alone.

– Elaine Downie, Poverty Truth Commission

In your name

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your love and generosity, given in
abundance: so no one should go hungry.

We pray for people living in poverty, judged and written off, that they
may have a place at the table.

We pray for a world that has become materialistic: guide us to
recognise that people are more valuable than objects, especially for
the sake of those living in poverty.

Please help those who close their hands and eyes to the plight of
people in poverty, that they may open their hearts and show
compassion to those less fortunate than themselves and be led into

Heavenly Father, you created us as loving and caring people. Send
your Holy Spirit to guide us to embrace all who are living in poverty;
help us to stand alongside them and support them to have their
God-given right to a decent life with the opportunity to contribute.

We ask this in your name. Amen

– Tricia McConalogue, Bridging the Gap; Poverty Truth Commission

Prayers from 50 New Prayers from the Iona Community, Neil Paynter (Ed.), Wild Goose Publications


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