Wildlife Week 2024

Group of people standing on Iona on a grey day.

Reflections on a Wild Week

by Martin Callam, Associate Member

I had the joy and privilege of sharing in the ‘Wild Week’ at Iona Abbey led by Eco-Congregation chaplain David Coleman and Judith Macleod.

The journey to Iona rarely runs smoothly and this time was no exception. The ferry from Fionnphort to Iona had broken down, so our journey was completed on one of the boats from Staffa Tours.

A theme that ran through the week was our connection with the natural world, starting with a reflection on St Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures: we praise God with all creatures and all creation.

Another theme was inclusiveness: all are part of God’s creation; God’s Rainbow Covenant is with ‘all flesh’ and ‘the Earth’. We had the privilege and challenge of taking part in a time of sharing on the joy of diversity and hearing one of the Abbey Team tell the story of their journey of transformation.

Credit: Iona Community/D Coleman

As well as eating some really delicious food (thanks to all who worked in the kitchen!) we also thought about food and the fact that our food connects us to God, to Creation and to each other.  Where does our food come from?  Does milk come from a fridge, a supermarket, a dairy or a cow?

We also watched the film, The Journey, made as part of the follow up to Pope Francis’ encyclical, ‘Laudato Si’. We watched representatives of the young, the disposed, the poor and others as they visited Rome at the invitation of the Pope to share their stories. We saw examples of the destruction of the Amazonian rain forest and a very dramatic scene from Africa of a tree that has died because it is now immersed in several feet of sea water.

As the theme was focussed on nature, we spent quite a bit of our time outside. Each morning we inspected the moths trapped overnight, an amazing variety. We had a guided walk round Maol Farm which is now directly managed by the National Trust for Scotland to encourage diversity and in particular provide habitats suitable for encouraging corncrakes, one of our most endangered species.

I joined the on-road pilgrimage which focussed on the Nunnery and the central part played by women in the medieval church and world. Everyone joined in the trip to Staffa with the opportunity to explore Fingal’s Cave and see the puffins now nesting on the island.

I thought that I was nearly finished, then I remembered the Agape evening worship which focussed on the ‘Lost Words’ project, looking at words that have been left out of the latest edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary, words such as moss, moth and dandelion. It was a moving and challenging service in a moving and challenging week.

Many thanks to David and Judith for making it happen and leading so effectively.

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Interested in enjoying the wild nature on Iona?

It’s impossible to come to Iona without becoming entranced by Creation. Take a look at our 2025 programme and sign up to one of our environment-focused weeks.

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