Discovering contentedness and community in short breaks on Iona

Two women at Iona jetty

Irene had wanted to visit Iona due to a variety of wee prompts over the past couple of years. In March, she arrived on the island for the first time. We hope it won’t be her last.

“I remember my pre-booking discussion with Patrick, explaining that I wanted time and space to refresh and recharge physically and emotionally from the impact of a busy life. I wasn’t too sure about engaging with anything – groups, community life or worship. But he offered reassurance that nothing was mandatory. This was a massive relief as I wasn’t sure that I was Christian enough or that I would fit in.

Booking was made easy by the team and they sent links to support my travel planning. The journey through Scotland was beautiful and relaxing.

On approach to Iona, The Abbey looked massive and majestic. I was taken by surprise when I took my first step onto Abbey grounds and became teary. This was unexpected for me but apparently isn’t a rare occurrence!

During my short break on Iona, I found there was a conflict between what I thought I wanted and what I needed.

The warmth of welcome and love extended to me made it impossible to refuse the gentle invitation to participate in community life, workshops and worship activity. The programme was carefully balanced to allow free time within the beautiful environment of Iona and the Abbey.

Who’d have thought that I’d find satisfaction in routine tasks that I previously detested in my allocated “kitchen duty”? What I appreciated quickly was that the tasks were more than tasks. Task time offered an opportunity to communicate and share experiences with colleagues, whilst providing nourishment for the community and became one of the most important parts of my day. Who’d have thought I’d look forward to chopping veg and drying dishes?

I was a bit apprehensive about my first workshop. Again, no worry was needed. Patrick delivered an engaging history of St Columba and The Abbey and encouraged us to link to current actions. There were no wrong answers.

Worship services are held twice daily in the Abbey. I found that the morning services were a perfect start to move forward with all that the new day offered and the evening services were special.

As a new returner to Church life I had so much angst about “getting it wrong”. But the thing I found special about worship in the Abbey was the straightforward praise through scripture, music, poetry and prayer.

I don’t know what my future holds, but I do know that I’ve returned home feeling more content than I have for some time.

I may forget names, but I’ll never forget the fairy hair, Kim’s cakes, Judy’s generosity allowing me a shot of bell ringing, jiving and Aussie line dancing, the arm I grabbed as we walked to the Ferry. The camaraderie amongst visitors, staff and volunteers is precious and the feeling of pea
ce and acceptance remains with me.

May God bless everyone who made my stay not what I thought I wanted but what I needed, and especially for the “nudge” towards the community.”


Do you need a short break on Iona?

Whether you’re island-hopping in the Inner Hebrides, need to restore your soul, or want a wee taste of Iona Community life, come and join us for a short break. You’ll find time and space to refresh your spirit with the peace and beauty of Iona, connect with our resident community, unwind and rest.

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