We Come to Thee, Iona

iona selfie

Last fall I went to spend some time on the Isle of Iona in Scotland.  Iona is part of the Hebrides islands off the coast of Scotland.  It is remote and rough.  There is a monastery there that was established almost 1500 years ago by Saint Columba.  He sought a sacred seclusion and found it on a small island warn smooth by the violent north Atlantic.

My official purpose there was to study worship and liturgy.  My unofficial purpose was more like Saint Columba’s- sacred seclusion.  I wanted to rest my mind in the Sabbath of a simple place where it seemed God’s presence might not be so interrupted.  Though I lived in community with other pilgrims while there, in the quiet times I was treated to too rare a glimpse of the proximity of the Almighty.  God was made known to me in the rolling hills and driving rains and swirling winds of Iona.  It was in the places between mountains where sheep sought stillness that I found some stillness too.  As I prepared to leave, I wrote about Iona.  Even still, you kind of had to be there…


We Come to Thee

O, Hebridean Jewel

     Of interrupted sea

     And harsh beauty

     At The Father’s decree

 O, Clefted Rock

     Where sheep have fed

     And pilgrims fled

     To the Son who bled

 O, Mythic Wind

     Of sightless sky

     With echo’s cry

     Of the Spirit’s sigh… Iona


 O, Stony Shores

     Of Vikings raid

     Where kings are laid

     And seekers prayed

 O, Misty Hills

     Where green is blessed

     And faith finds test

     And Sabbath rest

 O, Leaning Grass

     By howling team

     Of force unseen

     As the hungry glean… Iona


O, Celtic Roods

     Of stone-hewn face

     Of hard, earthen grace

     At redemption’s haste

 O, Cloistered Halls

     Of mystic singing

     Of hallowed ringing

     And burdens bringing

O, Pilgrim Folk

     With longing pleas

     From bruised knees

     We come to thee… Iona



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