Sounds of Iona August 2022

A view over the Sound of Iona. The sea is green, mountains in the background are blue.

Iona Community Leader, Ruth Harvey, reflects on stillness, rest and peace-making.

Is stillness the same as silence? John Punshon, in his powerful book ‘Encounter with Silence’ talks of finding the deep stillness within. I ponder this as I sit in community in Quaker Meeting. Coughs and shuffles, rumbles and children-chatter mean that while the silence may be broken, the stillness can flow. This searching for stillness in the midst of busyness is a daily discipline – one around which I circle, and in which I find solace. I wonder how you find stillness and rest?

I’ve been tempted to pitch a tent in my back garden these last days. There’s something about sleeping in a tent which I find deeply restful. The quality of sleep I found on a remote hillside overlooking Bardsey island far out west on the Lleyn peninsula recently was astounding. No tossing and turning, but deep sleep and even deeper dreams. I think the sunshine and the new birthday camping mat had something to do with it. I can feel the impact of the deep rest that came in those few days of holiday deep in my soul. Maybe I should pitch that tent! I wonder how you find stillness and rest?

Train delays aside, 24 hours spent in late July with more than 70 Methodists in north London was deeply restful and life-giving too. The theme they had chosen, ‘Prophetic Living and Peace Making’ was hardly light touch material. But we dived together into what it means to be called to a life of peace making, and how to distinguish between the ego and soul calling us forwards.

I wonder how the golden thread of the holy spirit weaves her way through the stillness and the peace making in your life?

We explored the ‘four characteristics of being a voice-walker’ from John Paul Lederach’s work on ‘The Moral Imagination: the art and soul of building peace’. And we reflected on how we identify the golden thread that calls us on in life. I shared with my friends the story of the re-found Mural, and the play of light, the ‘golden thread’ that weaves a way through the ordinary grittiness of everyday life in that remarkable piece of artwork. I wonder how the golden thread of the holy spirit weaves her way through the stillness and the peace-making in your life?

As I ponder stillness, silence and rest in the midst of busy lives, I leave you with an image of ‘sea silk’ and a beautiful song by Kitty Macfarlane with these exquisite words:

“It can’t be sold
this thread of gold,
it belongs to womankind.
So I weave it in and turn it out,
this burnished silk of mine.”

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