22nd May 2023

Quite soon I am hoping to retrace a journey I made as a student with two friends – from Glasgow to Oban by train – from Oban to Mull by ferry – across Mull by bus – and then a final ferry hop across the water to Iona. It’s not an easy place to reach, and yet it continues to draw people from across the world.

The west coast of Scotland is stunningly beautiful – reason enough to visit. Tiny Iona, where St Columba built a church and established a monastic community, where Scottish kings are buried – these things alone are enough to make Iona special. However, George MacLeod, founder of the Iona Community, described Iona as a thin place, with only a tissue paper separating the material from the spiritual. Are there places, circumstances, where God has felt particularly close for you?

The week I spent on Iona with the Iona Community was wonderful and it made a lasting impression on me, even if I’m not sure I can recall whether the ‘thin place’ thing was something I sensed or not.

Our minister Sam sometimes asks us to consider what has made us smile, what we have noticed of God during the week. It often takes me a while to reflect and think back, but I suspect the more we practice this the more we will become attentive and notice God at work in the ordinary moments in life. Then perhaps, we might find that the familiar places of our everyday lives can become thin places for us too?

Abbot Christopher Jamison offers pointers in his book “Finding Sanctuary” – maybe I’ll re-read it on my trip!

Ruth Allen