Theme for the Iona retreat was Time and Space

An important aspect of a going to Iona is Bringing Iona Home. Here, Liz Meek does just that for us

A group of 15 pilgrims from the Cardiff and Penarth Pastorate travelled to Iona to stay for six days at Iona Abbey, the famous ecumenical retreat centre with a world-wide membership committed to living and praying in community and to promoting God’s radical Justice in the World.

We travelled by a mixture of car train, bus and ferry. The train journey required a minimum of three changes: Cardiff to Crewe, Crewe to Glasgow and Glasgow to Oban. Then there was a ferry to Mull, followed by a bus the length of the island to a second ferry to Iona, where the abbey staff met us to help us with our bags. It was a short walk up to the Abbey, where we were warmly welcomed with tea coffee and hugs.

The weather was beautiful and quite warm for the Western Isles. The Theme for the retreat was Time and Space – which was perfect for the way I currently feel with both work and church life full of busyness with little time to be in God’s presence. Every morning started at 8am with a delicious breakfast, followed by morning worship Then we all had half-an-hour of shared chores to do to help keeping things tidy and meals on time. We could then join in the morning workshop or do our own thing if we preferred.

The Island is beautiful with lovely beaches and walks to explore. Lunch was usually at 1pm. The afternoons were free do what we wished. Dinner was at 8pm, then we had evening worship in the Abbey at 9pm.

Accommodation: All the accommodations was shared, so I shared with Jenny and Marion from Beulah. Showers were down the corridor.

Monday: we had a work shop on mindfulness full of useful techniques to focus on what God is asking of us, entitled: We become What we practice.

Tuesday: We undertook a pilgrimage to St Columba’s Bay, when it rained heavily – turning it in to a real pilgrimage! The evening service included prayers for healing.

Wednesday: The workshop was on collective justice, looking at different ways to engage with God’s ferocious love of Justice. In the afternoon, all the people from the Pastorate gathered together in the small St Michael’s Chapel to hold a memorial service to commemorate the many people we have lost in the pastorate over the last few years, when. Simon Ruddock was strongly in our thoughts and prayers. The evening service was an Agape service.

Thursday: The work shop was about Bringing Iona Home, looking at ways we could maintain the feelings of welcome and connection we had experienced as part of the Iona Community. In the afternoon quite a few people went on a boat trip to Staffa Island and came back with wonderful pictures of the puffins there and Fingal’s Cave.

We finished on Friday and the Iona team waved us off on the Ferry at 11am. I’ve returned home with my spirit healed more than I knew it needed, filled with renewed energy and an open heart that feels more aware of the spirit of God in the simple, the ordinary everyday world.

On Iona, Morning Worship always begins with the same prayer. The Opening Responses seem to express this feeling, so I leave you with them:

Leader: The world belongs to God

ALL: the earth and all its people

Leader: How good it is, how wonderful